I’m not sure what it is with Colombians and excess (maybe it has more to do with my ordering style). Over the summer I became acquainted with potato chip, avocado, mayo, ham, bacon and tomato topped perros calientes. This weekend I met the bandeja campesina, an overflowing country plate. It makes me wonder whether a city platter would be heartier or more delicate.
I immediately liked Tierras Colombianas. The spacious all-booths set up and self-promoting paper placemats make me happy like a Latin Denny’s. Red foil paper and hearts were festively bedecking random surfaces. I particularly liked the cut out heart tucked beneath the wall art golden god like he’d crapped it out (ok, maybe he was just sitting on it). Romantic.
We ordered an arepa and chorizo appetizer despite anticipating massive entrees. Colombian arepas are smaller, paler and chewier than better-known Venezuelan versions. They don’t immediately give when cut with the side of a fork. The chorizo was tangy, green-speckled and herby and bursting with cumin. We ordered it to try a few bites, knowing it would likely end up in a doggie bag.
James’s bistec empanizado, breaded beef cutlet, which also appeared on at least half of other diners’ plates, was practically the size of a deflated football. But I got the whammy. There was nothing bucolic about the long crispy-fat strip of chicharron, thin grilled steak, maduros, white rice, soupy yellow-tinged beans, a third of an avocado, arepa and fried egg crowning the whole beautiful mess. A spoonful of genuinely spicy green salsa completed the picture.
Sure, the country plate is a couple meals in one, and that’s how I treated it. I skipped breakfast and made a late lunch and 1 am dinner out of it. Never mind that an ice cream sundae snuck in between those two feedings.
Tierras Colombianas * 8218 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, NY