I listen to a raido station with very little chatter–I prefer listening to music, not deejays, on my morning and afternoon drives. Advertising is still there, though, and sometimes that’s a good thing.
As is the case with Sabor Latino, a new Peruvian restaurant in Tallahassee, located near Millennium Day Spa on Kerry Forest Parkway.
Since we’ve only just started to hear their ads and the restaurant itself is still a little on the bare side, I’m guessing they’ve only been open for a couple weeks. Because of that I’m willing to be a bit more lenient of some things than a place that’s been open for several months. For instance:
- Our waiter was young, very young, and could use some practice in general. We had to request napkins and silverware after the bread was delivered. And when I was signing the receipt he was all but bent over trying to either look at my signature to make sure it looked like my card (which he’d already returned) or checking out the tip I was giving him. Either way, personal space invaded.
- Their menu is lengthy but only half the items have prices next to them and, therefore, available to order. Most places I would be really irritated by this, but it shows they have a goal but are starting slow. At least that’s what I hope they’re doing. Even though I’d be perfectly happy to see a 1-page, photocopied menu with a few good things rather than empty page protectors.
- Prices of the items they do have available range from $10 to $20 for entrees, $6 to $8 for “entries”–what we took to mean appetizers, at least on Todd’s menu, mine was missing that page–yet they have bare tables; no linens or even the butcher paper treatment. That’s sorta inconsistent in my mind but, again, growing pains are to be expected.
- A large flat-screen television was playing ID (Investigation Discovery) while we were there. Murder during dinner works for dinner theater, not so much this place.
Now that those little observances are out of the way, let’s get to what’s really important: the food!
We attempted to order the Sabor Latino Cebiche (a mix of fish and shellfish–the ceviche I’m used to) but they had run out. Instead we go the regular Cebiche which was simply fish “cooked” in lemon juice and seasoned with red onion and aji amarillo peppers.
Though “simply” hardly does this dish justice. I think the last time I had ceviche was at Melhana where I worked, briefly, after Culinary School. We served it as an appetizer (as we’d attempted to order this, but it came out after our entrees did) and I remember it being very good. This was amazing. The lemon juice was tart, yes, but it did wonderful things to the pieces of fish. The slice of potato and sweet potato were a nice touch, a Peruvian custom so I’ve read, and the lemon and peppers with the sweet potato are giving me ideas of side dishes to come. Yum!
Todd ordered the Aji de Gallina, a shredded chicken dish that looks like a curry but tastes… Peruvian? The “creamy yellow salsa” is a bread-thickened chili, broth and cheese sauce and it’s something I think we’ll be trying at home some day soon. One thing: the recipe I found listed pecans as part of the sauce (a lot of old sauces were thickened by bread and nuts) though we didn’t see direct evidence of it and Todd didn’t feel ill despite an allergy, if you are allergic to nuts you might want to ask before ordering this dish.
Since a lot of the dish descriptions included tomatoes, I ordered what appeared to be a safe yet tasty option: the Bistec a lo Pobre. Even though the menu description stated it was a simple dish I did expect more seasoning on the steak than just pepper. And while I was asked how I liked my steak (answer: medium rare) it was so thin it was overall medium with only the thickest part having a bit of pink. The sides were listed as rice, fried egg, fried potatoes and fried bananas. Still not sure where the bananas were supposed to come in (they were not on the plate and I chose not to ask our young server) but the potatoes, as you can see, were log cabin-stacked french fries. Which is fine, but not exactly what I was expecting.
The egg over the rice is the one thing I will take a little issue with. It’s one thing if this was more of a steak-and-egg meal but the menu states and my research confirms that Peruvian food features a significant amount of French influence. I recall days in French Classical class where we topped several things with fried eggs–the most memorable being a tower of crouton, supreme of chicken, asparagus, crawfish tails and fried egg. The point of this was to cut through all the layers, egg to base, and the yolk mixes in and makes an amazing sauce.
For this to work, you have to have a liquid yolk. The yolk on the egg I was served was over-medium. It should have been over-easy if over-anything; sunny side up would have been better.
Overall impression? Lots of room to grow but some serious potential. I hope they’ll still be around in a couple of months so we can go back and see how they’ve improved and to get some more of that cebiche!