We don’t know if he’s Frank; heck, maybe he’s Fina. But Frank &Fina’s Cocina appears to have but one server.
Which, actually, isn’t as much of a problem as it could be. He’s a charming guy who really seems to enjoy talking to customers, and he’s assisted by a veritable troupe of, well, assistants. But here’s the thing: One server isn’t enough to cover this many tables, especially on a busy evening.
Here’s how the experience transpired for us: After we were seated, a young man appeared almost immediately to deliver chips and salsa and take drink orders. He and another employee brought our beverages. We looked over our menus and closed them, ready to order. And we waited. And waited some more. Finally the veteran server arrived and, though we hadn’t complained, told us he had delayed his approach because he’d seen us looking at our phones.
Which, as you might imagine, was more than a little disingenuous. Once we had figured out what was going on, we had watched him make his way around the room. Yes, we probably had glanced at our phones, to note the time and out of boredom. But we were ready and willing to order long before he arrived, and we’re confident we conveyed that.
The delay would have been easy to forgive, except that he also forgot one of our entrees. When the assistants arrived one short, there was confusion on their part and ours — until the server bustled up and asked the entree-less person to repeat the order.
Apologies all around, and thanks for that, but it shouldn’t have happened.
Because you know what else? In terms of food and atmosphere, Frank &Fina’s is good — way better than it needs to be.
We actually first dined at Frank &Fina’s years ago, when the restaurant still was located on, if memory serves, West Charleston Boulevard. That was a little place, a former fast-food outlet, unless I’m forgetting.
The newer spot — “newer” being a relative term here — is in the southwest part of the valley, off Grand Canyon Drive near Flamingo Road and the Beltway. It’s a comfortable location, a strip-center spot of two rooms that have been painted soothing, Southwestern-style earth-tone colors, with truly artful Southwestern-style accents positioned around the space. Tables are well spaced, furniture comfortable. In an area that doesn’t have a surplus of Mexican restaurants, it’s nicer than it needs to be to draw a crowd.
And the attention to detail extends to the food. Refried beans were served with one of our entrees, black beans with another, both of them well matched to the main event, both of them in tortilla cups and lightly sprinkled with cheese. Our plates held the mixed salads that you’ll find on most Mexican entree plates around town, but these were better in that they were a mix of greens, topped with strips of carrot and sliced radishes.
Guacamole ($3.95 for a half order, which we had, or $6.95 for a full) was very nice, slightly chunky and not overloaded with garlic. And our starter of queso fundido ($6.95) was the best we’ve ever had, the cheese perfectly melted and without a tendency to separate, topped with some sauteed chiles and warm pico de gallo, the flour tortillas (corn also are available) wrapped, in trios, which kept them nice and warm.
The quality extended to our entrees. Sweet potato enchiladas ($11.95) were not only offbeat but very well executed, the sweet potato very lightly seasoned so that it didn’t bring to mind Thanksgiving dinner, the rolled tortillas topped with a red sauce whose prodigious depth of color was only matched by its flavor.
And house tamales ($11.95), the chile verde pork (chile colorado, beef and chicken mole also were available) meaty and perfectly seasoned, the tamales light, almost fluffy.
And for dessert: sopapillas ($5.25), the three triangular pillows of fried dough drizzled with honey and caramel and served with ice cream.
So why do I say Frank &Fina’s is better than it needs to be? Because the quality of the food, and the careful execution, are such that the extra little touches, like the radishes on the salad and the tortilla cups for the beans, are simply gilding the lily.
Which brings us back to the service. The assistants were on top of things, but one server wasn’t enough to carry the room, and the service suffered as a result. It’s time for somebody to delegate.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Email Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com, or call 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.