Do you have a favorite street? One that you love to walk down, where you take time sit on a bench and look at the trees and admire the gardens and the ivy-covered houses? It can create a peaceful moment that takes you away from the big-city traffic.
I have a street like that. I can always find a good excuse to walk down it. When I’m nearby checking out new coffee shops or restaurants I’ll go out of my way to head down that street and get the feeling I’ve escaped to a small town outside Bogota.
So when a restaurant opens up on my favorite street, I pay attention.
The restaurant street
The new restaurant that caught my eye is set in one of those adorable brick houses that are common in Chapinero and that endlessly confuse me because they don’t seem to belong in Latin America. They must have been uprooted from somewhere in England, compressed a bit into a smaller size, and then planted in Chapinero.
Anyway, the restaurant. It’s La Grande (that’s the name). Inside, semi-exposed brick walls and industrial touches like bare bulbs aren’t new design themes but they are hip and comfortable. The chef’s table close to the entrance is a semi-private area for more intimate affairs. An incredibly long bar takes up the entire left side of the restaurant and tables take
The chef’s table close to the entrance is a semi-private area for more intimate affairs. An incredibly long bar takes up the entire left side of the restaurant and tables sit on the right-hand side. In the back a transparent roof lets light in.
The restaurant on the restaurant street
La Grande takes the popular idea of a cantina and throws in a cevichería. The mix gets even more interesting as Mexico and Peru are joined by Colombia. So you’ll find ceviche sitting next to tacos and sharing space with posta negra. To get the Peruvian flavors right they imported Nicolas Schmidt, a Peruvian chef who has worked in Italy and the United States.
A word of warning: You may need a dictionary to get you through the Latin terms on the menu. We’ll help you with a number of them in this article.
Mixologist Jonathan Moreno started our meal off right by bringing us Pinche Rojo, a sweet red sorrel margarita with a sugary, smoky, spicy rim. We also had the Indio Amazónico (Amazon Indian) gin fizz with lychees, ginger, lime, basil and the spidery mandragora root.
Naturally, ceviche takes center stage at a cevichería. There are the classics from Peruvian cuisine but also adaptations. About a dozen of them are offered here, all with Latin ingredients like maracuyá, cilantro, mango, and coconut.
Tiraditos also take their place on the menu, followed by grilled everything, tacos, and main dishes called fondos.
- Encocado tumaco takes the traditional flavors of a Colombian encocado stew and puts them into a ceviche.
- Costeno de camarón is a shrimp and octopus ceviche that comes in a creamy coconut sauce.
- Arroz criollo de lomo is green rice, grilled fish and hauncaína sauce (see photo at the top of the article). The tilapia served with ají amarillo rice was another solid fish dish to recommend.
- The tacos didn’t impress us so we won’t go into that.
- Mango costeño takes the idea of a classic ceviche but makes it with mango for those who don’t want fish.
- The grilled artichokes came with suero costeño acevichado, a type of sour cream with a taste of ceviche.
- Mazorca de la plaza is that typical grilled big kernel corn on the cob done Colombian-style with a queso paipa topping.
They also have an excellent lulo sauce. Ask for it.
To finish with something sweet, we received the picarones with joy. A typical dessert in Chile and Peru, those little bites have a taste similar to donut holes or funnel cake. They are fresh and light and warm (in other words, addictive). A 65% Colombian chocolate sauce was a tasty companion.
The aromática came with an unusual amount of flavors: sorrel, lemon grass, gooseberry, strawberry, passion fruit, fresh ginger root.
The waiters truly know what is in the dishes and provided prompt service that makes us want to return. However, vegetarian fare is scarce – I would like to see better options for people who are avoiding fish.
La Grande is a great spot for an evening drink and light bites with friends after work or on the weekend.
Grilled fare (from grilled corn to grilled octopus): COP$12,000 to 32,000
Ceviches: COP$16,000 to 24,500.
More substantial fish and beef dishes: COP$29,000-36,000.
Calle 69A #10-04, Quinta Camacho