Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peru, Upscale: A Visit to Urumbamba

One thing I love about life in general are the surprises you can find in the most familiar of places. I live in Queens; I’ve lived here since I was five so I know the area really well. Sure, stores come and go, and especially on major streets, some of them pop up and disappear with remarkable speed. But for whatever reason there are some places I take for granted as being there always, and I never go in.

Perhaps it’s comfort in knowing it’ll always be there. Like NYC’s tourist spots. Why do New Yorkers not go to these places ever? Why would we, we live here! And, it’s full of tourists who get in our way. Sorry, but it’s true. Perhaps it’s being a little apprehensive about going into a new place, especially if the establishment probably doesn't speak English. At the same time, I find that exhilarating, it’s embracing the unknown. Sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised, sometimes you’re not. That’s life, and comedian Gilda Radner phrases it just right:

“I always wanted a happy ending...  Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end.  Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity” (Gilda Radner, 1946 - 1989)

Now, I’ve walked past Urubamba many times, and I never went in to try their food. After asking The Fisherman where we should go out to eat on Friday, I thought “Hey, why not here?” and off we went. Naturally we read the reviews for some ideas.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect the interior to be as nice as it was. I normally expect good, authentic food coming from hole-in-the-wall places. Sure ambiance is nice, but it’s not very practical in Queens. Food is real, usually cheap, usually fast, and no one cares about how the restaurant looks.

Here at Urumbamba it was really swank inside, with nice lighting, a really high ceiling, and lots of Peruvian art. Not what I expected in Jackson Heights.

It take a while to get a seat, but apparently it’s that good, not just to non-Hispanics or non-Peruvians. When we sat down, we looked over it and figured out what we should get. I wish we got some ceviche, but it’s a bit expensive. Maybe next time.

The Fisherman got a breaded fried steak and a pesto pasta. I went for the roasted Peruvian chicken with potatoes. Around here, the roasted chicken, be it Peruvian or Colombian, it’s amazing. The cutlet was good, a bit salty. But the crust was very crispy. The Fisherman found the pasta to be a bit bland, but cooked well. So seasoning was a bit off but cooking technique was good. 

I found the chicken to be good, juicy, well-seasoned. But it just couldn’t beat Pollo Mario's chicken. The potatoes were fine.

Perhaps we ordered the wrong stuff, and at the price was a bit high too. It’s a nice place, but our food was probably more than $30. For it to be so-so, it was a little disappointing. Perhaps next time.

Not all adventures are exciting and positive. Some suck, some really suck, some are meh. I don't regret going to Urumbamba. In fact, I'd be willing to go again. I believe in giving places two or three chances. So this time wasn't great, there's always next time!

Speaking of next time, I wanted to show some examples of what I’ve been making since starting Weight Watchers. It’s really good food, lots of veggies, healthy and tasty too! I promise. Perhaps I'll do a review of healthier options I found that were good, and not so good. The good, the bad, the ugly. Maybe.

Until then, mangia!

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