Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Southern Tastes

Last weekend was Jia's birthday--her first since moving to the US. Planning her birthday dinner was more difficult than I thought it would be as we're not familiar with the better restaurants in the area yet. I did manage to find online listings that were helpful. After some browsing, I decided we should check out Cucharamama in Hoboken.

This South American restaurant is off the main street through Hoboken, which makes it a bit quieter, but not necessarily less crowded. When we sat down around 6:30 there were only a few other patrons--it was nearly full when we left. The warm decor is inviting and adds to the soothing atmosphere. I was slightly worried after reading a few reviews that said the service was poor, but we found no evidence of this during our dining experience--the waitstaff was friendly and quick.

Rather than choose the main courses for each of us, we chose only two and ordered a variety of tapas to share. We ordered choritos (mussels) en salsa cuzquena, Argentinian chorizo, empanadas with onion and blue cheese, Chilean beef and chicken potpie, Bolivian-style braised beef, and Colombian rice with cheese. Everything was wonderful--and there was plenty more on the menu that we could've ordered.

The flavors of some of the dishes were difficult to describe as I've never had anything quite like it--the combinations didn't sound appealing, but worked beautifully together on the spoon. The raisins added a great sweet quality to the potpie. My least favorite of the dishes was the choritos, which had a great sauce (I'm just not that big a fan of mussels).

Cucharamama also has an interesting drink menu with South American liqueurs. I went with an Argentinian beer that didn't taste much different than Tsingtao. If I enjoyed mixed drinks more, I would've ordered something else.

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