Latin Flavor in the Decor, Not the Food at Bogota
I've never had an arepa before. I had read so much about the legendary arepa lady on the Chowhound message boards, so I just had to try these sought-after white cornmeal cakes at Bogota. I opted for the traditional one with butter and white cheese. I'm guessing the arepa at this trendy pan-Latin bistro doesn't even come close to those of the arepa lady and her street cart.
The arepa wasn't even the least of an unsatisfactory dining experience we had at Bogota.
On a rainy Saturday night the place was bustling. While waiting about 30 minutes for our table we ordered a pitcher of mojitos for $28.00. The first sip was delicious and refreshing but it gave way to an overwhelming sweetness. We asked the bartender to put a shot of soda to dilute the sweetness, thus ruining an expensive drink. But we had no choice.
On one side of the restaurant is the bar area with some tables and stools by the window on the other side of the restaurant is the dining room. The atmosphere is infused with a Latin vibe, combining elements of modern design with a certain rawness and decay found in places like Havanna. Bright reds and turquoises contribute.
The food isn't as refined as the prices and the scene imply. One downfall I found is that all main courses are served unimaginatively with an insipid white or yellow rice and beans -- which tasted differently when we ordered more. It is the type of preparation you'd expect at the corner take out and delightfully pay under $10.00 for. But with $16.00 entrees, this self-proclaimed Latin Bistro fell short. One of our favorite items was the fried yuca, somehow airy and lightly fried. Admittedly the ropa vieja, shredded skirt steak in cilantro red wine sauce, was tender and had nice wine and garlic flavor, but the pollo in house specialty arroz con pollo was completely dried out. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was my friend's salad which amounted to a small pile of grocery store mixed greens with a hunk of goat cheese somewhat tactlessly plopped in the middle of the plate -- at $7.00 no less.
After the meal we sprinted through the rain and headed around the corner to the Black Sheep pub, ordered some brew and bopped our heads to the great jukebox.
Bogota Latin Bistro is located at 141 5th Avenue, Park Slope, 718-230-3805.