A Tropical Illusion
A couple of years ago, when this blog was young, I received a comment on a piece I wrote about a favorite Latin American restaurant. I could have written the comment off as spam, as it was essentially a plug for Bogota Latin Bistro, but instead I decided to give the restaurant a try. I stopped by for appetizers and met the young man who had left the comment, Farid Ali, half-owner and half-Colombian, who turned out to be an extremely charming, savvy restaurateur. The food was good, and the place had an upbeat party atmosphere, with great Latin music playing, but I wasn't ready to write about it at the time. Somehow it's taken me close to two years to get back. A recent Sunday brunch turned out to be a pleasure on several counts.
First of all, we were seated in the heated sun deck out back. It was a clear, sunny day, and despite the mid-thirties temperature outdoors it was like brunching al fresco in summer, a tropical illusion. The brunch menu featured both breakfast and lunch items. Dishes ranged from $10-15, with a complimentary drink. I ordered a passion fruit mimosa and the enormous, delicious bandeja paisa.
Bandeja paisa, sometimes called bandeja campesina, is a hearty country plate that might be considered the Colombian national dish. It's one of those copious rustic plates that prepares you for a day in the fields. I fear that tackling the Sunday Times was not quite adequate for working off many of the calories.
The plate included skirt steak, chicharrón (pork rind), fried egg, rice, beans, fried sweet plantains, avocado, red cabbage salad, and an arepa. In Colombia, but not at Bogota Latin Bistro, the plate also typically includes a chorizo. I was given a choice of rice and beans and chose yellow and black. The traditional Colombian combo would be white and red. Colombian arepas are flat, white corn pancakes, very much like tortillas, which pale by comparison to the plump Venezuelan arepas.
Bogota Latin Bistro's menu is pan-Latino, but with a Colombian focus. The staff were friendly and adept, and Farid's sunny smile greeted us and saw us out.
Bogota Latin Bistro
141 5th Ave. (at St. John's Place)