By Carol Brock
EL SUR AMERICANO
181-24 Horace Harding Expwy., Fresh Meadows
El Sur Americano is a triple Latin treat. Outside, the flags of the United States, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru fly overhead. Inside it’s pumpkin-colored walls and folk art boxes on the wall. The music player in the corner renders reggae and Latin songs and USA's Frankie.
I like El Sur best in the evening when the ceiling alcove is bathed with raspberry light. (Even though it’s white table cloth service at luncheon, the room seems antiseptic.) Deep raspberry napkins are used for dinner and wrought iron wall sconces with a sunburst design hold short, fat white candles.
Sunday supper here put us in the mood to trip on down to South America. El Sur Americano opened a year and four months ago. Our wait person arrived from Argentina four months ago which gave an opportunity to wave another flag.
Fruit juices and fruit shakes (bedidas y batidas de frutas) in tall glasses with a straw started us off. My dining companion chose guanabana (guava and banana). Hot it was.
Somehow, I also wound up with a typical Peruvian dish: Linguini in basil, spinach, cheese sauce topped with a breaded lean steak. The linguini was tossed with a pesto like sauce. It was sensational. The linguini tasted freshly made, the sauce superb. My grandmother often made breaded steak and this was fine breaded steak. But another time, I would skip an appetizer and have the steak instead.
Our waiter was a happy fella when she ordered flan for dessert. “Argentina,” he nodded. It was a square of flan embellished with a dab of cream on one side and dulce con leche on the other. Dulce con leche is very, very Argentina. He was less impressed with my selection — mazamorra motade (purple corn, brown sugar and cinnamon. I loved the purple gelatin dessert embedded with prunes, sort of a la Russ, and a perfect, light finale.
Another review day, I ordered an Equadorian dish of stewed tripe and rice with avocado. Latin comfort food. And even if you’ve steered away from tripe, take a dare and try it. The sauce is ultra smooth with creamy peanut butter that tints it a golden hue. There are velvety chunks of potato and slices of yucca, plus the tripe. Rice topped with a perfectly ripened avocado half, fanned (the better to eat it) shares the plate. Unbelievably, this is a combination made in gourmet heaven! My one negative was the rice pudding dessert. It’s the custard sauce type, almost drinkable. A clove was hidden in it adding a spicy look and very elusive spice flavor.
The kitchen staff hails from Peru, but they recreate typical Colombian and Equadorian favorites as well. For one stop Latin dining, I’ll take El Sur Americano.
THE BOTTOM LINE
One stop dining for Latin fare–Colombian, Equadorian and Peruvian. Raspberry neon lighted ceiling alcove at night. Juke box with reggae, Latin tunes and Frank Sinatra. Personable, English speaking wait staff.
Colombian (C), Ecuadorian (E), Peruvian (P)
Papa Kellena (stuffed potato)…$5.00
Pork and Chicken Tamale…$5.00
Steak or Ground Beef, Fried Pork Skin, Plantain, Fried Egg (C)…$10.00
Rice, Beans, Fried Flank Steak in Sauce or Fried with Own Seasoning (E)..$8.50
Lean Strips of Steak on Bed of Onions and Potatoes (P)…$9.00
Tripe Stewed and Rice with Avocado (E)…S8.00
Shrimp Marinted in a spice Lemon or Tomato Sauce (C, E, P)…$9.50
Clams on the Half Marinated with Onion and Cilantro or Spicy Lemon …$10.00
Peruvian Fried Rice with Shrimp, Calamari, Clams, Octupus and Scallops…$12.00
Setting: Pumpkin-colored walls
Hours: Seven days
Reservations: Six or more
Credit cards: All major
Off-premises catering: Yes
Noise: Quiet (Juke box)
Private parties: To 44
Handicapped access: Yes