|Inside the restaurant|
Bogotá was lit up for Christmas.
The Restaurante Club Colombia. It wasn't easy to find as it is set back from the street, with no signage, and not really well-lit. It's like a secret hideout:
But in actuality it's got that "old school" charm:
The appetizer was fried plantains with a side sauce that I couldn't quite place at first. It looked tomato-ish in the dark light, but it had no tomato flavor. It looked like a jam of some sort on the thin, crisp plantain, but the flavor was too piquant for a fruit jam. But I knew that flavor. It was beets. It was a beet puree. And it was pretty good.
As you can see, I'm having a beer. "Club Colombia" is a prominent national beer and this is their restaurant. It seemed only fitting to have one of their cervezas. I had the "roja," because.
The sobrebarriga, a flank steak, cooked for eight hours and served in a criollo sauce. Yes, that's a flank steak, or four of them, piled up. A "criollo" sauce is usually finely chopped tomatoes and onions. This had been cooked down to smooth. It actually tasted like my mother's tomato soup-based sauce for stuffed peppers and sarma.
It came served with a side order of roasted potatoes served in the same sauce. Between the steak, the beets, and a sarma-tasting sauce, this is exotic food from a foreign country I could've had my parents eat.
Merengón. Awesome. It was two merengue cookies, topped with cream, served with guanabana and raspberries. I am all about the guanabana. In the U.S., we can only get guanabana as little cans of juice in the Mexican food aisle. In Colombia, it is everywhere. (Guanabana ice cream? Yes, please!) And it is delicious. The merengón? Messy, but delicious.
The place filled up when I was there. Colombians aren't quite Argentines when it comes to dining late, but this place filled up when it got to the nine o'clock hour.
And on the walk back to the hotel, I saw one of these:
This was my first and only Starbucks sighting in three trips to Colombia. The local "Juan Valdez" chain keeps this country almost Starbucks-free. It's on the list of reasons I love Colombia.