New Restaurant Adventures: Alma

A couple of weekends ago, Chris and I finally had some time to try out a new place for dinner. We decided on Alma in Regent Square, a relatively new place that describes itself as a “Pan-Latin Kitchen.”  I had remembered reading Snickie’s review of it (which you can find here if you’re curious) and thought it sounded good, so it’s been on my radar.  It was a pleasant night and we knew they had seating outside, and it was one of the few times we were able to get our act together at a decent dinner hour so we thought we might have a chance at getting in without a wait.

We were well rewarded.  Almost as soon as it got there, it started drizzling, so we opted for  table inside, but we got to sit by a window, so that was nice.  The restaurant is across the street from Frick Park, so it’s a pleasant view, and the inside is split into two sections.  The front section is very light and open, with big windows overlooking the sidewalk, brightly colored walls, and light wood tables and chairs.  The back looked a little fancier–the colors were richer and darker, the furniture was black, and it just seemed a little classier.  I was happy by the window.  🙂  (Actually, I suppose the whole place is really split into three sections; they also have a Cantina area with drinks.  For tonight, we stuck to the food.)

And the food was excellent.  First, the appetizer, which may have been my favorite part of the meal.  We got the papitas rellenas, which hails from Perú; the restaurant describes it as “yuca and potato pillows stuffed with seasoned beef.”  What they don’t mention is the delightfully crisp fried outside of these little “pillows.”  They were delicious, and the sauce that they were served on was savory and flavorful but not too spicy.  I would absolutely get those again!  (There were one or two others that also looked really tasty, but they had soft cheeses–something I can’t be eating right now.)

For an entree, I got marinated skirt steak with chimichurri sauce on top and black beans and rice (from Argentina).  It was quite good.  I really enjoyed the freshness of the sauce on top–it was more of a salsa than a sauce, really, and like the appetizer, it was flavorful but not hot.  It was a refreshing touch with the beef.  (The beans were a little firm for my taste, but if that’s my biggest complaint, I think we made out pretty good!)  Chris got a beef brisket with rice and pigeon peas (from Cuba/Puerto Rico).  The meat came shredded, looking almost like a pulled pork would look, but it was so juicy and flavorful!  It wasn’t what I expected, but the bites I had were great and Chris really enjoyed it.

We were still up for some dessert, so we tried the tres leches cake (three milk cake) from Honduras.  It was quite interesting, and very tasty.  It was a dense-but-not-too-heavy cake, topped with evaporated and/or sweetened condensed milk (I think that’s what we decided it was) and with whipped cream and berries on the side.  Somehow, though, the cake didn’t get soggy, and the fact that the cake itself and the whipped cream weren’t overly sweet helped balance the sweetness of the glaze on top.

It’s nice to not only have interesting, international cuisine around, but to have it so nearby our house.  I’m looking forward to coming back again and trying some of the other dishes!

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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