Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review Cruzao Arepa Bar - $$ - V

There are so many places to eat on Brunswick Street but because I work on the strip I get a little tired of being spoilt for choice and a bit bored with what's on offer. Sucks to be me with all this good food around! The newest kid on our block is Cruzao Arepa Bar and I was very curious to check out the Venezuelan food in the hope of finding a new lunch option.

The bar serves arepas which are flat breads made from corn meal and stuffed with yummy fillings and then grilled. Kind of like a quesadilla but the bread is thicker. There are also nibbles called pasapalos that are for sharing while you down a mojito or Cuba libre and try decide which arepa to choose.

A group of us went for dinner and were the only people in there on what was a pretty foul Melbourne night. It was a little chilly in the bar but nothing some white rum couldn't fix. It was also quite dark (apologies for the photos) and the music a little bit too loud; had it been a full house it wouldn't have mattered.
The waiter-cum-bartender was really friendly and gave us a run down of the menu and what an arepa is. He suggested we start with some pasapalos so we opted for the tostones which are discs of fried plantain served with aioli dipping sauce and grated cheese on top. The garlic sauce was really creamy and not overpowering and the tostones crispy and hot.

We also chose the tequenos which are bread sticks stuffed with cheese and fried (are you sensing a pattern here?). There are 10 served in a an enamel bucket and by the time I whipped the camera out there were only 3 left. These little babies are good! Crispy, salty and cheesy; I could have eaten a whole bucket on my own!

While we were enjoying our starters, a Latin version of Catweasal came bounding out of the kitchen to chat to us. Eyla is one of the owners of the bar and is obviously very excited about bringing arepas to Melbourne. Having never tried them before I asked if they were for sharing. He explained that most people would order one each but he said if we wanted to try all the different ones it was no problem and he got the chef to cut them in half for us as he reckoned it would be too messy if we tried.
There were 6 of us and 7 arepas listed on
the menu so we tried all of them except the cheese and avocado one. My favourite was the slow cooked black beans with feta cheese, followed closely by the roasted pork marinated in garlic and red wine. The menu said they were served with a salad but ours just came with more tostones. Everyone was two mojitos in by this stage so the lack of vegetables didn't really matter.

The arepas are really tasty and I liked the char-grilled flavour of the bread. You eat them with your hands, much like a sandwich, and as such there is no cutlery on the tables. The food is definitely more snack-style or better suited to lunch rather than dinner, but this is a bar after all and not a restaurant.
I can definitely picture myself here with a hair-of-the-dog beer and a bowl of taquenos to get rid of a hangover; or popping in to line the stomach and get the party started for a night out in Fitzroy.

The best bit though was the price. We were full and only had to pay $12.50 each for the food - a bargain! I have a feeling arepas will be my new lunch choice on Brunswick Street.

Cruzao Arepa Bar on Urbanspoon


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