Sunday, April 22, 2012

Orinoco - Venezuelan

A few years ago when I was living in Brookline I was so excited when I heard that Orinoco was opening up a 2nd post in Brookline Village. I had the same exact feeling when I found out that Orinoco was opening a 3rd post in Harvard Square! It's a Venezuelan restaurant (named after one of the longest rivers in South America) - and most people probably don't know what exactly that means, but that's okay - you only need to know that it's delicious! Their cocktails are delicious - with lots of freshly muddled fruit options. None of their locations are huge - and they all get busy. I recently tried out the Harvard Square spot for lunch and while the service was a bit slow, the food was as delicious as always! The menu might have some new sounding dishes that aren't familiar to you - like arepas and empanadas, but take a risk and try something new!
56 JFK Street, Harvard Square
22 Harvard Street, Brookline
477 Shawmut Ave, South End
As usual, I had a tough time deciding what to order. I really like plantains and they aren't an item that pops up on menus a lot, so I ordered a side of these for the table to share - here they call them 'Tajadas' - fried sweet plantains. They also have 'Tostones' - crispy green plantains mini-cakes with garlic mojo. It's a good size portion to share!

In the end I opted for the Verde Empanadas instead of a salad because the server explained that the empanadas dishes come with a good size portion of salad too. He was definitely right - plenty of salad, plus 4 empanadas halves.
Verde Empanadas - made with 100% plantain dough and filled with wild mushrooms, piquillo, manchego cheese and salsa verde. Delicious! The other empanadas option is the Mechada - with a Venezuelan style stewed shredded beef filled inside.
My friends opted for the 'Reina Pepiada' - an arepa sandwich filled with shredded chicken, avocado and cilantro. An arepa is a traditional Venezuelan grilled corn pocket sandwich - very fluffy and light (you can see the arepa in the background). Then they shared one of the salads - the 'Palmito' - endives, heart of palm, tossed with fresh greens in cabrales vinaigrette with bacon wrapped dates (which they also offer as a side dish/appetizer portion). They have so many great sounding salads - another with grilled chicken and green grapes, plus a roasted beet option with goat cheese. They also have larger dinner size entrees - 'Principales,' 'Platos de La Casa' and other sandwich options, so it's a good lunch or dinner location! Orinoco takes reservations for groups of 4 or me, so feel free to call ahead to be sure you get a table!

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