Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Restaurant Review - actually two...

Barichara in the state of Santander, Colombia, must have the highest number of good restaurants in and around the city than any village in Colombia! And I'm working my way through them and enjoying (almost) every minute!

One of my guests, Karl, wasted no time sampling the
appetizer plate. By the time we had that lovely green
salad and the calamari, we were quite stuffed.
The first one I am reviewing is right at the top of the hill where the Church of Santa Barbara is located and is called Algarabia, which means "a gabbling noise," but could be interpreted to mean "a chattering." Owned by Francisco and Sophia Miras, they offer mostly Spanish dishes and some delicious specials during the week which are very Colombian, like the 'sopa' from Bogota with shredded chicken and little 'rolls' of avocado offered on the side which you add to the soup to your own taste.

On the weekend you really must plan to arrive hungry so you can enjoy the plate of spicy sausage, smoked ham and cheese for the appetizer, followed by a delectable calamari. Another featured dish is paella. If you like sangria, Francisco makes it fresh and you will probably sigh with disappointment, as I did, when the lovely pottery pitcher is tipped for the last time over your glass and it is found to be empty.

Delicious dessert at Algarabia in Barichara.
For consolation you can have a delicate crepe with strawberry and chocolate sauce drizzled over it or a square of mani gelled with a bit of mint and chocolate sauce decorating it. Prices are comparable to mid to upper range quality establishments in Bogota, as this one certainly is, and well worth it. Weekday 'specials' prices are competitive with the local eateries.

San Marco restaurant offers homey fare and lots of fun
for families with children.
If you are up for a short drive on either Saturday or Sunday, go back out on the road to San Gil, just after the sharp turn with the yellow church on the right, where you will see there is a dirt road to the right pointing your way to the San Marco restaurant. It is about a three-minute jaunt over a dirt road, winding around some fincas.  This restaurant is more like what going to your great uncle's granja might be like, with a definite family feeling. The attraction is the the collection of animals for the children to see while waiting to be served, and the accomodation of the staff to meet the needs of the younger diners.
Water buffalo in Colombia? Yes, and they are a bit
worried they might be on the menu, so keep your distance!

There are four water buffalo, but don't get too close. I think they are nervous about the menu (hamburguesas!) and they are quite aggressive. Goats, Brahma cattle, a burro and her burrito, plus geese, chickens, peacocks and a turkey can be found in the fowl pen. There is a pond where they have fish and the owners may be offering food for the children to feed the fish at a later date.

The menu is limited but creative and tasty, and the prices are definitely in the lower to mid-range, but when you add in a beverage and the dessert, you will probably hit $16,000 CPs per person. The fish dish was well seasoned and moist, the pork was a bit on the dry side and I had the beef plus chicken on a kebob which was pretty good, but the sauce had cream in it and it triggered my lactose intolerance right on schedule. The carrot cake was tasty, but the other choice was cheesecake and I wouldn't eat that again.
The fish dish was moist and there was plenty of it!

All in all, if I had children or grandchildren I wanted to entertain with their parents, I would definitely choose this place for the sense of freedom and affordability it offers.

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