Holy Mole, Carolinas has the Good, Hard-to-Find Stuff

The waiter sets down the photogenic plate of pollo con mole in front of me, and I behold once again the earthy, lavalike chocolate morass, oozing like primordial mud. The aroma wafts through my nostrils, and I quickly grab a forkful and savor its many-noted symphony of flavors, a hint of cinnamon here, a strong note of espresso there, and I sigh as I let the savory sensuality play over my palate.

And then I look down and sigh again, with a touch of disappointment. Yes, the rumor was true. Boneless chicken breasts.

When I first dined at Carolina's Mexican Cuisine shortly after it opened last year, one of the first dishes I sampled was the pollo con mole, for restaurants serving moles in Dallas are as rare as frosty days in July. Back then, an entire chicken leg was served with the sensuous sauce, and one of the true joys of consuming it was dipping the drumstick in mole, then gnawing the meat off the bone in caveman fashion. Mastication at its finest. On my latest visit, I discovered that the switch had indeed been made to breasts, perhaps to streamline ease of preparation. Yes, the dish is still a wonderful feast for the senses, just a little less so these days.

The switch in chicken was one of only a few minor disappointments on this occasion. Also, Carolinas was out of their off-the-menu salsa, which I encourage you to try, because it's a notch or two above the regular salsa on the flavor and Scoville (heat) scale. Finally, the weather was rainy and they were not seating people on the patio as we entered, which is a true shame because Carolinas' patio is both beautiful and expansive, one of the best around these parts.

Otherwise, everything on this evening was still quite impressive. The only shortcoming on the enchiladas was that the tortillas were somewhat stale. Still, the spicy queso sauce intermarried well with the chicken and proved quite successful. The beef enchilada with chile con carne was also tasty, although slightly under-seasoned. Chips and the regular table salsa were flavorful as well. We sat at the bar and the bartenders attended to our needs quite nicely, at one point proffering a slice of tres leches cake in the hopes we would order dessert. Alas, we were full and did not bite.

You may remember that Carolinas is the brainchild of Carolina Galvan-Rodriguez, proprietor of After All Restaurant Group, which she founded after splitting from ex-husband Mico Rodriguez and the M Crowd Restaurant Group. Word has it that she actually developed many of Mi Cocinas' original recipes, and the mole and its 34 ingredients were one of the new ideas she wanted to bring to the table, so to speak. The restaurant itself is very chic, although located in a slightly seedy neighborhood, and there's plenty of room if you are tempted to bring a large party. There's even music at both the Rosemeade and Parker Road locations Fridays and Saturdays after 10 p.m. (A DJ works the crowd at Rosemeade, while a live band holds down the action at Parker.) Hopefully, you can order the pollo con mole that late.

3950 Rosemeade (at Midway Road)

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Chris Meesey