Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Monday, May 09, 2005


means bananas! Well, technically, that's not true. They're "plaintains" which are closely related to bananas but are starchier and used as a vegetable, especially in Latin cuisine.

Alas, I'm not talking about the fruit but rather the restaurant at the corner of 18th & Guerrero. This hub, only a hop from my former apartment, is turning out to be quite the foodie hotspot, sporting Tartine and Delfina, as well as the yet-to-open enterprise of Pizzeria Delfina. On this block, too, is the small but hip Fayes Video that not only carries a good selection of queer cult flicks and documentaries but also offers lattes to go. Of course, Bi-Rite is the law of the land, a bodega packing everything you might want to cook up your gourmet meal in such a small storefront that you've gotta wonder if there's some sort of optical illusion at play.

All this background to lay the foundation for my rant about Platanos. Amidst the epic quality of this block, Platanos might as well be a five-star restaurant in Kansas City. In other words, it may fly in the middle of the country (or even in Hayes or Noe Valley where, in my experience, the restaurants serve mediocre food for astronomical prices), but it just doesn't live up to rep of this hood.

To its credit, the white wine sangrias were quite tasty. The small plates (aka appetizers) were by far the strongest offering of the restaurant. The fried plantain chips with guacamole and salsas were nicely done, but of course, their restaurant's name hangs on the reputation of these delicacies! The flavors and textures of the corn and chicken empanadas hit a high note. But the ceviche? "Eh." Maybe I'm spoiled but I kept thinking of divine experiences I've had with ceviche, particularly at Fresca on Fillmore St.

We ordered the entrees family style, making it easy to take a bite of all of them. The chicken mole was extremely disappointing. It had none of the complexity, none of the kick, that its fellow moles possess. By kick, I mean that sweet and spicy undertone, often inducing a revelation about the well-matched wedding of chiles with chocolate. The halibut with a mango salsa was . . . well, it was. And the pork? It was meat and rice. Nothing fancy. Nothing even dressed up to be fancy. The standout might have been the Latin version of an eggplant neapolitan, which had both the looks and the taste to live in the neighborhood. But was any of this worth the 16 to 17 dollars a dish price-tag? Give me a break.

On the bright side, did I mention the sangria? I could have swum happily in a lake of it--not ever being privy to the food--and remained a merry woman.


At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Neela said...

Summi -- I've been meaning to comment on your blog for weeks. I am a notorious blog reader -- they are my prime procrastination fodder at work and when sitting down to write and such. It is nice to read yours, to keep up with your life and read your lovely writing. RE: Platanos. I find myself deferring to this restaurant when I want good Latin food but don't want to eat another burrito. My father took me and two of my friends out here last year and we all got buzzed on the yummy sangria and that helped us ignore the ugly cockroaches climbing the wall next to our table. Yuck. But it's just so damn close to my house ....


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