More good Venezuelan food? Yes, right here in WV!
After I recently shared some love for a great little Venezuelan restaurant in Elkins, reader Shawn Means wrote in to do the same thing for another one in Summersville.
“El Gran Sabor is good, but the best place in the state for Venezuelan fare is the poorly named, but fantastic, Original Flavor Bistro in Summersville,” he said. “Owned by a husband and wife, she from Puerto Rico and he from Venezuela, they have a large and fantastic menu, cooked to perfection.”
A peek at their massive menu shows an impressive selection of taquenos, ceviche, empanadas, cachapas, arepas and Latin street-food sandwiches, along with various and sundry salads, burgers, hot dogs and more.
Needless to say, massive drooling ensued.
There are Venezuelan, Puerto Rican and Sand & Sea butcher boards featuring all manner of meats, seafoods, veggies, rices and sides.
You’ll find entrées like Pollo a la Criolla (chicken breast sauteed with onions and peppers in a tomato-based Creole sauce) and Carne Frita (deep-fried pork loin sauteed with onions and peppers in an oil-and-vinegar sauce).
There are surprises like Pescado Entero (a whole deep-fried tilapia fish seasoned with a garlic and cilantro herb blend) and Cazuela de Mariscos (a tangle of clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops cooked with saffron, white wine, tomatoes, garlic and herbs).
And there are treats like Pastelon de Pollo (fried sweet plantain casserole stuffed with shredded chicken and cheese and baked until bubbly) plus a selection of Pichos (skewers, we call them) of barbecue chicken or pork, chorizo, flank steak and shrimp, each served with toasted garlic bread.
I was especially excited to see mofongo and trifongo, which are traditional Puerto Rican dishes that use plantains as their main ingredient.
To make mofongo, plantains are picked while still green and are then cut up and typically fried – although they can be boiled or roasted – and then mashed with salt, garlic, broth and olive oil before being shaped into a packed ball, sometimes with bits of pork cracklings or bacon mixed inside.
But wait, it gets better! That giant orb is then topped with beef, chicken, shrimp or veggies, often with a creamy or tangy sauce covering the whole thing. Delish. (Trifongo is its sister dish incorporating a trio of green plantains, sweet plantains and boiled yuca as its base.)
If you have any room to spare after that delicious monstrosity, there’s flan, tres leches cake, cinnamon crisps and more for dessert.
Means went on to tell me that he dined at Original Flavor Bistro not long after returning from a two-week vacation in Puerto Rico and swears the food he enjoyed in Summersville was better than anywhere he ate on the island. Wow.
“If you’ve not been,” he said, “you should go today. It’s worth the drive.”
Well, alrighty then, who’s with me?
Actually, my trek to Summersville will have to wait. Believe it or not, I’m actually traveling this week to – wait for it – Puerto Rico for a few days of work and, hopefully, good food.
If you remember me sharing my culinary love for Puerto Rico two years ago, you know just how excited I am to be going back!
IF YOU GO: Original Flavor Bistro at 860 Broad St. in Summersville is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, call 304-872-2301 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.