1/2 Funny, there was a story in todays NY Times about WWF (I know its WWE now, but it just doesnt look right) style wrestling Cholitas in Bolivia. Cholita, one of Cobble Hills Peruvian restaurants, wasn't as amusing, I'm afraid.
On a sickeningly steamy Saturday I decided try either Mancora or Cholita since I'd never been to either and Peruvian sounded like a random good idea. We opted for the latter, primarily because it was less crowded. In fact, the entire dining room was empty. I would normally take that as a bad sign if it werent for the full-to-capacity back patio, which we wanted nothing to do with. Maybe were freaks for sitting alone in air conditioned comfort, but humidity combined with a slew of strollers and the new mommies accompanying them, is the antithesis of a an enjoyable evening.
Even being the only diners in the room (at least temporarily), we still had trouble with our scatterbrained bed-headed waiter. They were out of Jamess original choice, something involving lamb, so he went for a basic hanger steak with chimichurri, medium rare. It ended up rarer than rare. I went for the paella, which I'm not the biggest fan of in the first place, it was a spur of the moment urge. But their bizarro addition of a frozen vegetable combo (lima beans, green beans and corn–isnt that succotash? I have a severe hatred of those mixed vegetable packs. The only time I tolerated them was way back in 91 when I got my first apt. and the only place that did Chinese delivery [which wasn't even in my S.E. Portland neighborhood, but downtown] had this sweet greasy pork stir fry that was full of frozen corn, machine cubed carrots and green beans that I'd frequently order even though I was well aware that it was so not Chinese) in the rice and seafood fray certainly didnt help change my opinion of the dish. Do they even eat paella in Peru?
It wasn't a heinous experience by any means. The Pisco sours were nice, the fried pork appetizer wasn't half bad, but I'm in no hurry to return. It's not like I'm in an early '90s Oregonian culinary wasteland; now choices abound. I think Cholitas back garden is the draw, much the same way nearby Pacificos open air seating trumps their cuisine. For me, al fresco atmosphere doesnt hold enough sway.
Cholita * 139 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY