2010-10-13 / Restaurant of the Week

FARID’S PLACE

Though the name may fool you, the food will not. This festive eatery features traditional Colombian cuisine and is hosted by the very gracious Claudia Cordona, a native of central Colombia and her husband Farid, who has a Lebanese father and a Puerto Rican mother. (Only in New York!) The result of this partnership is a friendly restaurant that serves delicious Colombian food in a comfortable atmosphere. Glossy wood floors, exposed brick walls and charming Colombian artifacts that adorn the walls are some of the details you’ll find here. A hefty bar awaits, as they are expecting their beer and wine license soon.

 

Claudia spent years in her grandmother’s restaurant learning all the secret recipes that led to her success. At Farid’s Place, you’ll find meat and seafood dishes, served in typical style at reasonable prices. We started with some of their natural fruit juices such as mango, papaya, blackberry and passion fruit. Tender pastries called “empanadas” are filled with either beef, chicken, shrimp or cheese and take it from me, they’re all good. At just $2 each, order a couple to share as an appetizer. “Ceviche” is a typical dish of cold shrimp marinated in lime and cilantro that is refreshing and flavorful ($12). “Arepa” are corn cakes that come straight up, or topped with fresh cheese or sausage. Soup is an important part of Colombian cuisine and each day features a different variety. Chicken soup on Monday, Plantain soup on Tuesday, and oxtail soup on Wednesday start the week off right. A special type of stew called “sancocho” is prepared later in the week and is worth a try for its rich flavor and generous helping of chicken, vegetables and potatoes.

Just before our entrées arrived, we were presented with two crunchy salads, topped with slices of buttery avocado and our choice of dressing. My dining companion dove into a traditional dish called “cazuela de mariscos”. This is a seafood casserole that combines shrimp, clams, squid, octopus and scallops in creamy, mild sauce, served in a cast iron pot for which the dish is named ($19). The fluffy rice that accompanies it helps to soak up the delicious sauce and no one can resist their crispy fries. Other seafood dishes include savory rice and shrimp, jumbo shrimp in garlic sauce and a variety of fish. Fried porgy or red snapper, for example, come with your choice of tostones, fried yucca, rice and beans, French fries or salad.

Meanwhile, my grilled skirt steak called “entrana” arrived, still sizzling on a traditional metal grill, garnished with a grilled plantain. I love the chimichurri sauce that complements the flavor of the steak, which was cooked to order, tender and juicy A country plate is a hefty platter of grilled steak, fried pork skin, rice, beans, sweet plantains and a corn cake, all topped with a fried egg for good measure for an unbeatable $12. Juicy pork loin is another favorite of mine, served with salad, rice, beans and plantains. Try something different with their grilled beef tongue, calves’ liver or beef tongue in zesty Creole sauce. There are plenty of chicken dishes such as classic “arroz con pollo” or rice and chicken, grilled chicken breast with salad, chicken cutlet with mushroom sauce or garlic sauce or fried chicken.

For dessert, we shared a cool and creamy flan in a puddle of caramel sauce. Figs and cheese are a local delicacy and finish the meal nicely, along with, what else…Colombian coffee.

Farid’s Place is open for lunch and dinner. A special “menu del dia” or Lunch Special is served from noon until 4:00pm and may include hearty stew with rice and salad, chicken cutlet with mushroom sauce or steak and onions for about $8.50. Service is fast and efficient so you can be on your way. A children’s menu makes family dining easy. Visit Farid’s Place soon and enjoy a traditional Colombian meal served in a friendly, comfortable restaurant. FARID’S PLACE

25-98 Steinway Street • Astoria

718.777.1410

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