The Plantain in Disguise

Arriving with high hopes we ignored the clear and apparent signals such as the worn-down restaurant sign and empty parking lot. As college students, we were lured in with the myriad of discounts they advertised. Upon arrival, we were seated at a two-person table in between a cluster of other tables, adding to the coziness of their vibe. There were no separating walls so in essence you could hear everyone’s conversation, observe everyone’s food, and feel everyone’s presence. As we were greeted by our waiter who instantly shared with us more of the discounts that were offered, the more appealing this restaurant became. The aesthetic was good and the burnt orange wall added to the warmth and snugness of the restaurant. Their decoration stayed true to its Colombian culture, through its wall paintings, colors, and music.

The abundance of options on their menu was overwhelming but we choose to stay positive and view it as a good thing. As we flipped through the various pages on the menu, we struggled to choose upon on a meal. For the appetizer, our mouths were watering for the Tequenos and Empanadas, but we decided against that being that we drove over an hour to eat at this restaurant and we didn’t want to settle for something we could get back at our local Panna. Instead, we decided to take a risk and ordered an “Aborrajado”, an authentic Colombian dish. It wasn’t its peculiar name that caught our attention, rather its description which read, “Dish of fried plantains with cheese.”

Little did we know that ordering this appetizer was the start of a downhill journey we were about to partake in.  As we waited for what seemed hours for this appetizer to come out, our growling tummies added to the high expectations of what this dish was going to be. In the meantime, I decided to order a Guanabana drink that thankfully, came out instantaneously to calm my hunger as we continued to await this mysterious meal. Finally, after a good 30 minutes, our waiter seemed to be making his way over to our table with what from afar seemed to appear as a giant chicken tender. Our moods shifted from excited to disappointed, as we thought to ourselves that he must be coming over to tell us that our dish still wasn’t ready since we were quite positive we didn’t order any chicken tenders. To our surprise we were wrong, and not just about our order not being ready. Our order indeed was ready and the giant chicken finger, after all, wasn’t a chicken finger, but it was our long-awaited Aborrajada.

The waiter dropped off our dish with what seemed like a smirk plastered across his face and walked off before we could ask any questions. The closer we got to glance at it the more unappealing it became. We ended up wishing that it was a giant chicken finger because it would’ve been better than what it looked like up close. The plantain looked like it had been deep fried not once, but maybe 50 times, in Cheeto crumbs. Hoping the inside would be better we decided to peel off the outer layer of this creature looking object and try the cheesy plantain for ourselves. Somehow after deep frying the f%$%* out of it, the cheese wasn’t even melted and the entire plantain along with the Cheeto crust had a chewy and spongy texture. Needless to say, at that very moment we deeply regretted not ordering our Tequenos and empanadas.

After letting the Aborrajado wallow in our stomachs we decided to play it safe with our entrees and order something basic off the menu and order an Arepa with chicken along with a Chicken Quesadilla. Since I was already so heavily cheating on my vegan diet, I strictly asked for no cheese on my Arepa. This time, in the 40 minutes it took our entrees to come out I went to the bathroom to pass the time only to be confronted with not having any toilet paper on site. As I was confronted with this situation I was texted the food was finally out and decided to ignore yet another red flag and walked out of the bathroom.

What awaited at the table was yet another disappointment. The Arepa itself, along with the chicken tasted as if it had been sitting in the freezer for over a year and had been microwaved a solid two minutes. They clearly ran out of basic condiments, such as salt and pepper since the meal lacked any flavor and tasted as if I was biting into a piece of cardboard. As if the stale food and bland taste weren’t enough, they managed to get our very simple orders wrong. We attempted ordering the simplest meals on the menu but apparently, it wasn’t easy enough. The chicken QUESAdilla’s had zero cheese, meaning the chicken inside of it was being held together by nothing. So simply by attempting to eat the quesadilla, you would fail miserably because it would just disassemble in your bare hands. They clearly didn’t run out of cheese though, since instead of putting the cheese in the meal whose main focus is the cheese, they put it into the Arepa we ordered with strictly no cheese. After constant let downs, we intelligently decided to hold off on any dessert orders.

We finally decided to just take our defeat and order our check but our waiters shift must’ve ended since he was nowhere to be found. We finally received our check after another 30 minutes by a new waitress who seemed uninterested in us since we weren’t her table and whatever tip we would leave wouldn’t be for her (I don’t blame her). At the end of the day, we couldn’t blame anyone but ourselves being that we were the ones who decided to drive out almost an hour and a half to save a buck or two. It wasn’t all losses since we indulged in this experience with good attitudes and laughed it off the entire car way home. Moral of the story, being cheap can be expensive.

This by no means is meant to offend anyone, just our personal-opinion about our humorous experience

Author: Valeria Salgado & Claudia Fuenmayor 
Univeristy: Florida International Univerisity

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