Most of our group lunches at work are ordered via FreshDirect. Every New Yorker has also seen their delivery vans all over the city–albeit not in my part of Harlem–but I’ve never ordered from them until today. The New York Times announced this week that chef Roberto SantibaÃ±ez of Rosa Mexicano has collaborated with FreshDirect to offer Mexican microwavable meals to its customers. I’ve never been to “New York insitution” Rosa Mexicano because I try not to eat Mexican food from restaurants deemed “upscale and authentic.” I never buy TV dinners either but the spiel was that these Fresh Dining Meals contain no butter, very little cream and only vegetable-based oils are used in their sauces. The prospect of a healthy-sounding Mexican dish in “revolutionary microwavable containers” was intriguing.
I signed up on FreshDirect.com, ordered six of the Rosa Mexicano Fresh Dining Meals and had them delivered to work. An hour after the estimated delivery time and $78.93 later, four co-workers signed up to be my guinea pigs.
1. Beef Short Rib Enchiladas with Salsa Mestiza and Cactus, $9.99
I loved how spicy it was but I didn’t really taste the short ribs nor remember the cactus. I did appreciate the real parsley garnish. Cameron thought that the beef was a little bland. She agreed that it was spicy but she also thought that it just didn’t have a lot of flavor. The tortillas were falling apart which made them the “most Mexican.”
2. Chicken in Ancho Chili Adobo with Green Beans and Shiitakes, $8.99
Luc said the chicken was too hard. He felt that he was eating something very healthy, but later added that his comment meant that he was still hungry.
3. Halibut in Tomatillo Herb Mole with Red Bliss Potatoes and Asparagus, $13.99
I really liked the vegetables because the short ribs were too salty from the other dish that I took comfort in eating the zucchini from this. Cameron said the sauce tasted very fresh. She was really impressed with the softness of the fish because she expected less from a microwavable meal. She also said that there was a nice meat-to-sauce ratio although the vegetable choices–red potatoes, asparagus and zucchini–weren’t very Mexican. She thought the potatoes were too heavy with the fish and would have prefered rice or grilled scallions or piquillo peppers.
4. Shrimp in Red Bell Pepper and Chipotle Cream Sauce, $10.99
I was surprised that the shrimp was clear and wondered whether I did not microwave the dish long enough. I actually ended up liking this dish because of that fact. I usually do not order shrimps because most of the time, they are overcooked, tough and chewy. Cameron thought they were just undercooked. Aaron said he didn’t even notice because it was “yummy to my tummy.” Aaron liked the sauce that Cameron called “too creamy for Mexican food,” although she liked the spice. Out of the three things she tasted, she said that this is the one dish she will not order again. Aaron just felt bad.
5. Turbot in Veracruz Sauce over Achiote Rice with Asparagus and Chayote, $9.99
Taste was overall average for Ben. The fish was a little overcooked but “pretty good for a microwavable meal.” The asparagus was too soggy and the rice was too mushy, both of which he attributed to the sloppy sauce, which was just “okay.” He thought there wasn’t enough rice and he found himself looking for more as he ate the fish. He said he would put it slightly higher than Trader Joe’s microwavable meals, but at $10, he expected much more. He would not buy it again and will stay loyal to Trader Joe’s because they charge $5 for theirs.
6. Grilled Chicken in Tequila-Mushroom Cream Sauce with Snow Peas, $8.99
It was only after I tasted this dish that I understood Luc’s description of the chicken being too hard. This dish contained a huge breast of chicken, complete with grill marks, and I needed a real knife to properly slice through it. The snow peas were so crunchy, they may have been raw, which was not a problem to me. Like all the others, this was also smothered in sauce. The combination of tequila and mushrooms made the sauce taste a little nutty that at first taste, I thought there was some peanut butter in it. I added my own rice to this and I enjoyed it more because it kept the saltiness at bay.
As for the packaging, the containers looked snazzier than the ones I can buy from regular grocery stores. After heating up, though, the tab was very difficult to pull back. We all ended up poking them with our plastic forks–not provided by FreshDirect–to open. It only took four minutes to heat up each container and I thought that was so convenient.
We work downtown in New York City and we’re all used to paying at least $8 for lunch, but we wanted more. An hour later, I was snacking on Ritz crackers.
I also had to order at least $60 worth of items to qualify for FreshDirect delivery. The delivery fee was a steep $14.99 but they did come in the next day, twenty-four hours after I ordered online.
The overall taste verdict? FreshDirect Rosa Mexicano Fresh Dining Meals are a little over-salted and saucy, but not so bad in taste in terms of microwavable food. In terms of Mexican food, however, all of us say, “so-so.”
Searching for a good taco in New York City
Rosa Mexicana Fresh Dining Meals at FreshDirect.com