Las Palmas has tasty new menu items

We were all set to rate Las Palmas a solid “meh.” A couple of new menu items give us hope for something better.

Every restaurant needs to shake things up and update the menu from time to time. Even the hamburger chains know this, which is why they keep introducing new sandwiches for limited times, even though most of their customers are still ordering Whoppers and Big Macs. It keeps the kitchen staff on its toes, and keeps the diners from getting bored.

Occasionally, it’s how new favorites get created.

On our two recent visits, most of what we ordered ended up slightly on one side or the other of OK. The two exceptions were items marked as “new” on the menu.

The first was from the appetizer menu, the shrimp nachos ($8.99). Triangular corn tortilla chips are topped with two plump shrimp (or crawfish) and covered with melted cheese. Lettuce, jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream come on the side. This isn’t particularly fancy, but is quite satisfying, even after having sampled the complimentary chips and salsa.

By far our favorite item is the camarones Pacifico ($16.59). A half-dozen jumbo shrimp are stuffed with poblano pepper and shredded cheese and — words that always warm our culinary hearts — wrapped in bacon, then served on a sizzling plate with grilled onions. The shrimp come with flour tortillas, charro beans, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo, so they can be eaten just like that other sizzling-plate favorite, fajitas. Or, they can be eaten with a knife and fork. They are delightful either way. We would go back to order this dish.

We could not say that about any of the other items we tried, but none of them were among the eight other new selections that are enticingly described in the menu.

The ranchero crawfish enchiladas ($10.99) are OK, but the ranchero sauce overwhelms everything else. Two corn tortillas are filled with crawfish and vegetables and topped with sauce and cheese. We can only remember one bite in which the flavor of the crawfish was noticeable.

Like many of the entrees, this one is served with rice and refried beans. The rice was fine, but not exceptional. The beans were pretty much the standard issue version in most Tex-Mex restaurants — not as thick and flavorful as they could be, but acceptable. A guest ordered the chili relleno dinner ($11.59) and noticed, to her surprise, a tortilla along with the beef-stuffed poblano pepper covered in ranchero sauce and cheese. We’re not quite sure what to make of that.

We stayed with the lunch menu on a midday trip because that’s usually the best way to ensure things get to the table quickly enough when time is of the essence. There are 17 options, covering a decent cross section of the overall menu.

Our service was friendly and attentive on both visits.