Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pambiche

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Portland, OR. Put a little flare on the table. Better yet, put a little flare everywhere! If on the hunt for Cuban fare in quite the festive environment, Pambiche becomes the place to try. I grew up around Cuban cuisine on the east coast and discerning the authenticity became easier with time. Here, the bright exterior, tight interior, friendly staff and flavor combinations gave me a little Miami in an unassuming city: good ole Portland, Oregon.

The wait was long, the outside and inside tables were full, and the night was chilly. We heard that the 'list' was posted outside, near the entrance - a self-written request to be seated - a helpful tidbit to not get lost in the shuffle. There were heaters outside, although on this night, they weren't really needed. The interior was cozy, perhaps a little too cozy...wandering through the small room became a challenge. If space is an issue, request to dine outside.

Palm Beach Cooler
Palm Beach Cooler - was ordered to start off the meal. It was a simple white wine and fresh pineapple juice blend that pulled quite close to a white sangria. It had a good tone despite its sweetness and was served over ice with a sprig of mint and an edible piece of sugar cane. Never heard of this before, and not sure if it still exists on the menu, but...there it was.

Empanada, Maiz Con Pollo




Empanada, Maiz Con Pollo - I ordered this and nibbled it alongside my friends tostones. I liked the semi-crisp approach to the tostones, but I kept my focus on the empanada. I have seen variations of this small bite across the Latin American cultures, but have never seen it served up hot and crunchy. The dough flaked off readily as I dug in and a steam of garlic escaped the opened pocket. The chicken was tender and paired smoothly with the corn and salsa mixture. I was persuaded by the Cuban approach, but Argentine still remains my favorite.

Ajiaco







Ajiaco - is their traditional spicy stew, tasting very much like a one-pot dish from abuelita herself. There were cubes of beef, pork, plantain, squash, yuca...all simmered together in their juices, seasoning up the soupy meal. The stew was surprisingly light, given the diversity of ingredients (all of the rice was used to give it more body). It was their "pepper hot" item, yet not too spicy; an FYI for the eager eater who usually has a spice aversion. If I were catching a cold or the start of a flu, I would consider this as an alternative to the traditional chicken soup.

If I have learned one thing from my eating across Portland, it is the extent to which restaurants fine-tune and specialize their menu selections.  That being said, I'm curious to venture into Pamibche's brunch and happy hour choices on my next visit. As I have hinted at a few times, the place is not seating-friendly to an extremely large group. I would suggest maxing out at 6 or so for a more comfortable dining experience.



Pambiche
2811 NE Glisan St
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 233-0511
www.pambiche.com

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