By Anne DesBrisay
Brazilian cheese bread, Guatemalan jocon, Chilean churrasco, Cuban croquettes, Salvadorean tamales, Mexican enchiladas, empanadas from Chile, Peru and Argentina, and every other Saturday, Venezuelan arepoza day.
These are just some of the dishes on offer at the new Latin Bistro, sprouted in the spot where the Italian sandwich/deli shop DiRienzo’s used to be. The affable John — who is, naturally, Dutch — and his Chilean-born wife run the place, hiring cooks from Latin-American countries, each one tasked with making the food of his/her homeland.
On my visit, the special was Mexican enchiladas. I tried those, along with a wide sampling of empanadas, a croquette, a Cuban soup, and a wee coconut kiss for dessert. I was keen on some of it — the house black beans are deeply coloured, rich in flavour and nubbly in texture, and the green salsa I was given with the enchiladas was fine, as were the corn tortillas.
But the rest was largely lacking, I’m sorry to report. The soup was salty and flavour missing. The shredded chicken inside the enchiladas, though moist, tasted too much of salty base, the cheese scattered on top was the rubbery preshredded product. The guacamole had been whipped to goo and didn’t have much flavour, and I found myself longing for fresh cilantro, something to brighten the dish. The empanadas all suffered from (again) too-salty fillings, and, with the exception of the Argentinian chicken empanada, a deficit of filling vis a vis pastry. The Cuban croquette was gluey.
Such a great concept, this Latin Bistro, but if I might suggest less focus on the quantity of cuisines until the quality is up to speed.
Cost: Enchiladas, $8.99, empanadas, $4.20 each, croquette, $4.50
Open: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Latin Bistro, 1121 Meadowlands Dr., 613-510-1202.