This was one of those weeks where things worked out a bit different than planned and actually that was OK. When I was searching for someplace new to have breakfast a few weekends ago Ava’s Café popped up and I saw they billed themselves as a Venezuelan restaurant. So while I didn’t go for breakfast I filed them away for as a potential blog candidate since I hadn’t done Venezuela.
This was the day I decided to try them out and off I went. When I arrived where it was supposed to be, it’s not there. I mean the building and everything was where it should have been but not Ava’s. Where it should have been was another little eatery called Me-A-More Café. I figured maybe it was just a name change since the sign said Café & Latin Street Cuisine so I might still get Venezuela out of this.
The place is small and well lit with 8 or 10 tables and was not very busy when I went in so I was promptly greeted and seated. The menu did have an item specifically called Venezuelan Pabellon as well as several more Latin American sounding dishes. I was still in business. I ordered my dish and fired up my Kindle app to wait but they brought out a little appetizer to get me started.
Now my first thought was “That’s a skimpy bowl of chips, they must not be doing that well.” Upon closer inspection I realized those were plantain chips and the dip was some kind of mayonnaise based dip with a herby tang to it and a little went a long way. The combo was good since the slight tang of the sauce balanced the faintly sweet starchiness of the plantains. Certainly it was something a different.
While I was chowing on the chips I learned some stuff through overheard conversations and direct communication with the staff. First was they replaced Ava’s here but kept a large part of the menu from Ava’s. The new owner is also the chef and is from the Dominican Republic and has added a some Dominican items (there’s my 2 for 1, I can come back for Dominican). The young woman who waited on me was from Haiti. The owner asks for feedback and actually accepts criticism with grace, seems to be appreciative of the feedback as a way to improve, and isn’t afraid to acknowledge it when she agrees. I know this last because she spent several minutes talking to a guy who had suggestions for improvement on each of the items he had eaten and she was just as nice and smiley when she walked away as she was when to walked up. Kudos to her.
The pabellon consisted of rice, black beans, fried ripe plantains and shredded beef. Nothing fancy about this dish and there’s a lot of commonality with some of the other South American cuisines I’ve had since starting the blog. The biggest differentiator was the shredded beef which was lightly seasoned and not at all spicy which I was expecting it to be, at least a little. It all went well as filling comfort food. In conversation I learned the Dominican version uses red beans, green plantains & shredded pork.
On the way out I decided I’d grab a snack for later and got a guava and cheese empanada.
Later has come and gone so I’ve tried it out and I’m a fan. At first I thought the cheese was simply cream cheese but it’s something made in house apparently from some other soft white cheese that’s sweetened and has something a little tart added in. The guava element was jam or preserves that were not too sweet and the empanada crust was soft and just a bit chewy.
Overall I’d say while the afternoon didn’t go as planned it was very successful. The food was good and they had some nice changes of pace like the plantain chips plus everyone in the place was super friendly. If you’re local here’s another chance to support a non-chain small business and get rewarded with good food and service.
Check out the Tell Me More page for more on Venezuela