En and I went to a new (to us) restaurant today: El Camino down in Fremont. It came highly recommended by a bunch of En’s coworkers.

The name is quite àpropos. The old El Caminos of the 70’s were a mashup of a car and a pickup truck keeping the good parts of neither — but made up for it in style.

If style is what you’re after.

The restaurant with the same has the same problem.

Our appetizer was good. A guacamole with fried plantain chips. The presentation got in the way of the food though. It was set up with the long chips all nestled into the guacamole. This just made it impossible to actually dip the chip into anything because the gauc was full of chips. Tasty though.

My main course was a pork thing over some masa thing and what appeared to be sweet potato.

I have to say “appeared” because it was just way too dark to even see what you were eating. I had to hold the table’s candle over my plate to see a hint of what was on it — it was that dark.

When the mood lighting gets in the way of the eating process you have failed as a decorator.

The food itself was, at best, ok. Certainly not worth half of what we paid for it. Woefully under seasoned. Poorly paired sides (once I found them). Watery margaritas with too much ice to water it down further as you drank it.

The ambiance was nice, admittedly. But when I go to a restaurant, I’m going not for the look, but for the food.

Like the car truck whatever is its namesake, the style, however good it may be, does not make up for the lack of quality on offer.