Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Earlier this month, I went over to the second location of Orinoco in Brookline Village to see how it would compare to the original spot in the South End of Boston. When I first tried the original Orinoco, I was greatly impressed by the place, as its Venezuelan cuisine was absolutely top notch, and the slightly cramped but rather cozy interior on a tree-lined corner of the South End was something that I still remember. The only thing I didn't like about the original Orinoco was the difficult to nearly impossible parking situation, which was partly what made me so excited to hear about the newer location in Brookline. And the verdict? A big thumbs up for the Brookline spot, as the food was outstanding, the atmosphere was attractive (though the room was a bit noisy), and the service was excellent.
When we first arrived in Brookline Village to try Orinoco, I wasn't sure we were actually on the right part of Harvard Street, as I didn't even see the restaurant. It turns out the sign is virtually invisible and the restaurant almost looked like an extension of Pomodoro, which is next door. But we indeed figured it all out, and waited a minute or two for a table (the place was packed, even early on a Wednesday night) before sitting near one of the front windows.
We started with an appetizer of empanadas (three types--black bean, shredded beef, and whitefish). The black bean empanada was just ok, but the shredded beef empanada was truly amazing, with a rich, sweet taste to the shredded beef that reminded me of some of my best meals in San Diego over the past several years. The whitefish empanada was nearly as good as the shredded beef, as it had a mild taste that didn't overwhelm the other ingredients. We soon moved on to our entrees, which included a dish called cordero (New Zealand lamb chops encrusted with pistachio, brown sugar, and plantains, with a watercress salad on the side) and an entree called pabellon criollo (shredded beef with black beans, rice, and plantains on the side). Both dishes were memorable, with the lamb being meaty and delicious with little fat or gristle, and the beef having that same sweet taste that the empanada had. The watercress salad, rice, and beans were all tasty, but the plantains were too oily and greasy for my liking. We washed our meals down with some refreshing passion fruit juice and lemon juice and ended the evening with a sinfully rich molten chocolate cake that was made with 100% Venezuelan dark chocolate.
Aside from the noise level and the greasy plantains, our experience at Orinoco in Brookline was nearly a perfect one; the waiter was terrific, the food was fantastic, the prices were pretty good, and the parking across the street was free. I do, however, have reservations about adding a featured review for the Brookline Orinoco onto our site. The reason? It seems to have been discovered already; indeed, based on the unbelievable crowds we witnessed on a recent weeknight, Orinoco seems to be anything but a hidden gem. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go; on the contrary, this may have been one of my top 5 dining experiences in 2008, and I would certainly go back in a heartbeat.
If you would like the address for Orinoco in Brookline, here it is: Orinoco, 22 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA, 02445. Phone: (617) 232-9505.
Related Blog Entries: Brookline restaurants
david gold said:
Rave update to the last review here from 2008. All the good qualities are still there. Crowds have diminished a little bit with the economy, so it's easier to get in. Go! Orinoco keeps holding its own and maintaining its standards and fun.
Posted on 9/24/10
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