Mi Casa offers a blend of Mexican, Spanish dishes

Restaurant profile

April 27, 2000|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant offers Mexican fare with a Spanish twist.

As with most Mexican restaurants, the menu boasts a variety of fajitas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas and chimichangas. But Mi Casa also offers more seafood and pork dishes than a typical Mexican restaurant.

"We use a lot of shrimps and crabs, and the rices are sauteed and then steam-cooked," explained manager Chandler Tschand. "That's a Spanish way of doing things. We use a lot of pork. Mexicans don't use a lot of pork."

In fact, Mi Casa's top seller is the Spanish classic paella, a savory mix of rice, seafood and saffron, offered for $13.95, Tschand said.

Another favorite is chicken rellenos, a rice dish cooked with spinach, mushrooms and a cheese sauce, which sells for $12.95. Combination plates also sell well.

All dishes are available for takeout.

Mi Casa's lunch menu is slightly abbreviated, with no paella or crab enchiladas and fewer combination plates.

Appetizers for lunch and dinner include nachos, quesadillas and a Mexican seafood dip loaded with crab, shrimp and scallops.

The restaurant, tucked into a shopping plaza on St. Johns Lane in Ellicott City, seats about 85 at casual booths and tables. Live plants hang from ceramic-tiled arches on the walls, and Spanish music is piped through loudspeakers.

Though Tschand was born in New York City, most of the restaurant's employees are from Spain or Mexico, he said.

With one cook from Mexico and the other from El Salvador, the emphasis is on authentic food, Tschand said. To ensure freshness, the tortillas aren't prepared until after an order is placed, he said.

"Everything is done right there on the line," he said.

Tschand respects culinary tradition, but he's also embracing the future. A few months ago, he helped create a Web site for the restaurant. The site features menus, pictures of food and information about the 3-year-old restaurant.

"We thought, `That's a trend,' so we just started it," he said. "It makes it very easy for us because when somebody asks for a menu, we just give them the Web page."

Within a few weeks, it will be possible to place orders online, Tschand said, adding, "We wanted to get used to this first."

Mi Casa's technological changes do not herald culinary ones. Though specials are offered, the tried-and-true menu seems unlikely to change. When Mi Casa opened, it offered a different menu every night for the first couple of months, Tschand said. Items such as steak and spaghetti didn't sell, so Mi Casa sticks to what it does best.

"Just about everything on the menu sells very, very well," Tschand said.

Mi Casa

Where: 3355 St. Johns Lane, Ellicott City; 410-480-2900; Web site: www.micasamd.com.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Prices: Appetizers, $4.95-$8.95; entrees: $7.95-$14.95.

Credit cards: Visa, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Diner's Card.

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