This was my first attempt at hosting a Cuisine Club dinner and thanks to Shweyta, it turned out to be easier than I had originally thought.
A tip of my hat goes to the Internet, for its large number of suggestions and reviews. Specifically, Yelp and CitySearch
A wag of my finder goes to Abhishek for his mis direction. Dearest Abhu had incorrectly informed me that I can pick anything with 'L'. It can be the name of the restaurant, or the street its on and does not have to be limited to the name of the cuisine. Thankfully, his attempts were futile.
After dabbling in Lebanese for 3 hours, I directed my internet search towards 'Latin'. Yelp was very helpful in limiting the search by 'BYOB'. Zafra kitchen in Hoboken appeared to be a wise choice.
My first blunder was ignoring the review "Not good for large groups". As luck would have it, the turnout was one of the biggest with 16 of us. Zafra's Kitchen was a small, hole in the wall, cozy little place and it became a lot cozier when all of us had to adjust within the confined space. I was amazed at the wait line that formed while we were dining.
My second mistake was underestimating the travel time. Closely followed by my third mistake of not having anyone's cellphone number on me. I am embarrassed to admit that I made it just in the nick of time and we came close to loosing out dinner reservations. But all's well that end's well. Or so I hope coz some of us had to leave a little earlier for various non-essential reasons.
The find of the month was the delicious sangria's that the place treated us to. This was a BYOB place and we were encouraged to bring our own wines. Per the online reviews, Zafra's kitchen made killer sangrias and they weren't lying. Both red and white, the sangria was probably the best I have ever tasted.
The food was excellent. I was impressed with the appetizers. Special mentions go to Patatas Bravas, Chorizo Encebollado, Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Frijol Refrito y Tres Quesos. The rellenos was my personal favorite.
Everyone appreciated the food. I had Camarones Coloraditos (a Shrimp in Red Mole Sauce over Fresh Corn Cuban-Style Polenta, Sautéed KaleUntil). which was good. I heard good reviews for Pollo con Mole Oaxaqueño (a Chicken with Authentic Oaxacan Mole, Rice, and Tortillas). Until we had to leave, some of us were still ordering tapas and the festivities were in full swing. Maybe some one from the remaining party can fill in the details of what transpired after our retreat.
All in all, our first adventure out of Manhattan was quite rewarding and all of us had a good time.
A special thanks goes out to our patient waitress. She was excellent, helpful (and strangely like all the dishes I ordered). It was not easy to accommodate all of us given the confined quarters. Seeing the wait staff wade through the sea of humanity as they served our food, was a spectacle. The three row seating was definitely a first!
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