Arepa

http://www.arepacafe.ca/

Living in the Bathurst/Queen area, we are walking around the block quite a lot. A byproduct of these promenades is a mental map of local food places we definitely need to visit. Every now and then, the list of candidates gets too long so we are urged to drop an item off it.

One of these places was Arepa – a Venezuelan eatery specializing in, getting it straight from the name, arepas. When Ma Cherie’s grandpa decided to visit us in downtown, we thought it would be a great place to take him to.

APPEARANCE

from a foreign land, the transparent bottle does not reveal any detail and the label is intriguing and somewhat confusing (we'll see)

We walked by numerous times. First guess was Crepo… Ma Cherie loved the typeface, but we were pretty certain it was a breakfast place serving crepes. A downside of an interesting sign is in its obscurity - interesting although a bit confusing, especially when arepas are not that popular downtown. Other than that, bright windows with a lot of light inside were very welcoming on the chilly evening.

NOSE

a quick pour into the glass forms some foam blocking the view, still obscure and difficult to make out the details; smells like a true thirst cruncher though

We entered to some lounge music and a friendly, young waiter who was eager to educate us about arepas – a traditional Venezuelan corn bread used for sandwiches. Learning something new made me excited about the place. One wall was lined with flour packs and some words in decorative typefaces, looking very authentic. Ma Cheri was very happy to see restaurants experiment with type. The bathroom sign was made of bright and happy squares, with white "banos" letters on top. We also really liked the brick walls, tall ceiling and candle-like lights.

SWIRL

bubbles are rising from the glass’s bottom, a slight bitterness smell is coming through

After the presentation about arepas, we dived into the menu. A nicely laid out piece of laminated paper was a but busy but easy to read. We both made excellent choices, at least we were assured of that by our waiter. Pabellon Veggie Arepa for Ma Cherie and La Pelua Arepa for myself paired with two local beers sounded great to us as well. We both went with Mill Street beers – a tankhouse ale and an organic. There were quite a few menu choices available, and almost all of them sounded equally intriguing.

PALATE

malty with a hint of wheat, bitter foam

The sandwiches and beer came within 10 minutes, an excellent turnaround! We did not quite know what to expect  but were pleasantly surprised. Ma Cherie’s Pabellon Veggie was very stuffed with beans, avocado, plantain, topped with mozzarella - quite the challenge to eat. My La Pelua was on a drier side at the beginning, but near the end it was soaked in juicy sauces (to make up for it). On the side of mine was a green pepper and garlic mayo sauce, and like all dishes it came with a radish-coleslaw mix.

Our waiter left us three bottled sauces, about one of which we were warned about as being very hot. The beers we ordered were only half pints so they were gone in no time. Eating was more fun after downing both glasses anyway so no regrets there. The arepas were remarkably filling despite being the size of an English muffin at most.

FINISH

filling and creamy while appearing lighter and less engaging from a first sight

A great place for a quick dinner or a lunch! Not much of a romantic night, but there is some soul to it. We liked it very much, definitely in the spirit of this neighborhood – original, welcoming and a bit rebellious.

Overall, an unfiltered Ale beer. 

Arepa Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cheesewerks

Yamato