Restaurant Review: Fosil

Jessica Rose finds this Vinohrady Mexican restaurant muy encantado

Jessica Rose

Written by Jessica Rose
Published on 29.10.2008 15:56 (updated on 29.10.2008)

I´m not even a soup person, and I could just tell from the scent rising from the thick clay bowl, the way the cheese floated casually and alluringly in the center, and the soft flour tortilla folded against the inside, that this was going to be good. Each spoonful delivered different combinations of cheese, onions, corn, and, my favorite part, pieces of fried corn tortilla soaked with the vigorous flavor yet with a slight crunch still holding on for life. I gave the verbal verdict to my companion, and made him taste Fosil´s tortilla soup. His reaction was the same.

When we walked in from the cold and down the steps into this quaint Mexican restaurant, I was instantly bewitched by the place. It is a den of rustic red, densely cluttered with typical Mexican décor, like sombreros and hand-woven blankets, striped with bright colors subdued by the soft glow of the evening ambience. From the energetic rhythms of salsa music, to the rickety glass case containing necklaces, wallets, and bottled hot sauces for sale, to the little cactus on our table, to the CD-sized colored plates—this charming little place had me at “hola.”

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From our plate
80 CZK Tortilla Soup
80 CZK Quesadillas
105 CZK Queso Fundido Chorizo
170 CZK Enchilidas Mole
170 CZK Plato Azteca
140 CZK Tacos de Bistek
140 CZK Tacos Dorados
140 CZK Tostadas
95 CZK Coronas
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And just like every other case of whirlwind love at first sight, we hope the experience lives up to our expectations. The proof is in the pudding. Or the salsa.

A Corona with a lime would have been ill-suited in any other corner of Prague where we´d hang our coats and scarves over the back of the chairs, rub our hands, and steer our tastes toward a snowy north. But Fosil was so warm and cozy; a very sun-and-sand Mexican beer (they also offer Sol) was perfect. To really warm up, there are a multitude of tequilas to choose from as well, including Sauza Gold, Jose Cuervo (of course), Corralejo, among many others, and two kinds of the dangerously tempting Mezcal, which is a cruder form of tequila with the infamous worm at the bottom of the bottle.

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Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m2

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The best of the food at Fosil transported us to Mexico. Since Mexican food is rarely eaten the way its served, and, rather, accessorized with salsas and sides, the teacup-sized salsa servings were the first hint of both freshness and authenticity. The green salsa, or salsa verde, is made from tomatillos, cilantro, and onions, and generally is more flavorful than its red counterpart. My first taste was a wave of zingy, fresh flavor—enough so that it more than compensated for the fact that the corn chips weren´t the warm, somewhat greasy kind from the oven, but, I believe, from a bag—it was no matter. The red salsa also had a powerful flavor, flamboyant with cilantro. The “soupier” texture, versus the thicker, pastier salsa that pours out of a jar, proved it was fresh—no tomato paste here, just chopped, garden-fresh produce. I couldn´t wait to pour spoonfuls over the dishes to come.

Of course it took more than just good salsas and a nice tortilla soup to prove we had been splendidly dislocated from Prague. The tostadas seemed all too similar to the tacos de bistek, but either way, I was swept away by the savory indulgence of refried beans, juicy grilled meat, and the blanket of cheese atop the tortillas, in both dishes. The difference is that one has steak, one pork; one comes with flour tortillas—the soft shells—and the other with maize tortillas, both of which were definitely not from the shelves of Tesco. The way the maize tortilla shells crimped under the hot ingredients and maintained their crunch, instead of submitting to sogsville, was a clear indication that yet another Mexican staple at Fosil was quality.

Aside from the fact that the owners and kitchen staff are Mexican and authenticity, therefore, can´t be denied, there were other reasons it didn´t matter much that the slight variations made some dishes seem all too identical and singing the same song. Mexican food is like salsa or merengue music: it´s lively and fun, it requires a certain atmosphere and mood to fully enjoy, and it seems repetitive, with trivial variations. But it all has the same point. Let loose, relax, enjoy. (It´s easy to relax about the bill in Fosil as well. The most expensive dish is 170CZK.)

So we took it lightly, even though the food itself is anything but light. We had so much cheese that the end of our experience came much like the end of a tequila night, which starts off wildly fun (“Bailo, bailo, bailo!”) and pleasure-seeking, with no consideration for the aftermath, until sluggishness kicks in, “Bamboleo” has played one too many times, and existence feels too heavy.  Our final food coma moments had us wishing we could be teleported home.

But it had been far too difficult to resist all the overflowing cheese that either starred in or accompanied nearly every dish. The way it stretched across latitudes from bites of the quesadillas, or especially from the queso fundido, which maintained its hot elasticity for the entire sitting, and which poor quality cheese, be it Monterey Jack or cheddar, could not possibly achieve.

The cheese was also abundant on the tacos dorados (a great recommendation by our waiter, resonant of “taquitos” if you´re from North America), as well as the enchiladas de mole. It was a bit unusual, I thought, that they used Balkan cheese, not a typical ingredient of Mexican cuisine. But it worked well as a topper, harmonizing flavors, especially on the tacos durados, which were tightly rolled, fried corn tortillas, enveloping shredded chicken, beans, and, yes, more cheese.  Heaps of Balkan cheese also crowned the enchiladas de mole, which are served with flour tortillas wrapped around shredded meat and melted cheese, and drizzled in “mole” sauce. Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that has an acquired taste, with the unlikely combination of chocolate, chillies, and spices. It´s definitely a distinct flavor, and one that even copious amounts of cheese could not conceal from my companion, who found it distasteful.

My companion said some things I found funny. He said he loved the rice, which I agreed was pleasant, but it usually sits as such a backstage side dish that I supposed it could, in fact, be taken for granted unless it´s bad—or unless you have a good dinner companion who praises the underdog. He also said, as we shared the tacos durados, “I really like this lettuce; it´s so refreshing!” I laughed, and repeated his statement as a question. “It´s true!” he replied enthusiastically, “It´s a nice change from cabbage.”

As we wrapped ourselves back up in our scarves, I took one more all-encompassing look at my new favorite Mexican hideaway, where I will return lip-gloss free and comfy in a sweatshirt, on cold, gray nights when I want to escape winter with some tangy salsas, a lime that touches my nose from the glass as I take a cool sip, and some heavy, self-indulgent fare that is all too tempting to resist. Relaxation, pure enjoyment, and an unassuming air (without judgment—a few more words and I´ll be done with that part) comprise the best and dreamiest part of bewitchment. Fosil´s spell had me lovin´-the-spin-I´m-in, and failing to notice things during dinner that I otherwise would; for example, I didn´t realize until long after I was gone that the entire night was guacamole-free.

As we went up the little steps towards the door, the incredibly friendly and attentive staff waved goodbye, saying “Hasta Luego!” and my companion and I smiled, returning the happy sentiments. We stepped onto the cold sidewalk, back towards I.P. Pavlova, chorusing “Aaw.”

Volveré.

Disclaimer: All stars are relative to an establishment´s context.

Fosil
Bělehradská 66, Prague 2
+420 737 502 824

Jessica Rose can be reached at jessica@expats.cz