Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Presto Latin Cantina - Marietta, GA
My dining companion surprised me this weekend with breakfast at Presto Latin Cantina. Presto calls itself a Caribbean and South American restaurant with an emphasis on Colombian home cooking.
The menu lists several Latin Specialties and Mexican dishes. Breakfast seemed to be a combination of both. Having tried Colombian food for the first time earlier this year in Key West, I was looking forward to having it again. (Colombian Grace, Key West, FL)
We were greeted by our server and shown to a table, the first customers of the day, but we weren't alone for long. Once we were settled with our menus I took a look around. The interior is festive and inviting. Colorful artwork, some of which is for sale, lends a cheerful air to the bright space.
I looked over the menu and selected two items for breakfast. The first was called Calentado. It's a rice and bean casserole with chicharron (here that meant thick cut pork belly lardons) served with scrambled eggs and a fried flour arepa with queso fresco. (An arepa is very similar to a Mexican gordita. They can be made of wheat flour or corn and can be fried, boiled, baked or grilled) The second thing I ordered was a Venezuelan specialty called Arepa Reina Pepeada, a grilled flour arepa stuffed with avocado chicken salad.
The Calentado was rich, homey and clearly made from scratch. The combination of rice and beans with bacon hit every comfort food note. I could eat this kind of thing for breakfast everyday. The flour arepa was totally different from the corn type I've had previously. It was a good foil for the sauce served with my breakfast but on its own not nearly as flavorful as the corn version. The slab of queso fresco served with it was creamy and mildly flavored.
My dining companion had the Arepa de Choclo, a sweet corn caked grilled and served with queso fresco. This was very similar to the breakfast we had at Colombian Grace earlier this year. The sweet corn cake with the cheese has an almost nutty, salty sweet taste. A flavor profile I really enjoy. It was delicious and didn't disappoint.
It turned out though the clear star of breakfast was the Arepa Reina Pepeada that we shared. The cool creamy avocado mayonnaise, moist chicken that had a real depth of flavor all wrapped up in a grilled flour arepa. Different than any chicken salad I've had before. I will go back for this dish.
We plan on going back for dinner. The dinner menu looks very interesting and is filled with the types of flavors I love.
On Saturday nights Presto heats up with the sounds of live music to rumba by. A band plays merengue, salsa and vallenato. Muy caliente!
While I wouldn't know the difference between a rumba and a cha cha I can't wait to sit there with a frozen rum drink and take it all in over a plate of Colombian comfort food. Like the sign outside says: