Monday, March 21, 2005

saturday night in costa rica

Saturday evening was like a baseball doubleheader, only the games were on opposite sides of town.

Our story begins at Lansdowne and Bloor, site of this month's Chowhound dinner. Seven of us met up at Pura Vida, a roomy bar next to the subway station which several people had heard about on CBC Radio. A big screen TV silently played a Spanish translation of A Fistfull of Dollars, while a smaller one showed a soccer show.

We started with a round of appetizers: plantains with a sharp white cheese, nachos and "naked" bread. The name of the latter drew us in, and proved a good choice. Turned out to be a variation on bruschetta, loaded with the same sharp cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, sharp sour cream, etc. The menu's promise of extra "goodies" with the nachos also caught our eye - good they were, fresh chips loaded with meat, beans, peppers, sour cream, etc., but not overwhelmed by gobs of cheese.

As for the mains, I had baked enchilladas in green sauce, accompanied by rice, black beans and what could be best described as pico de gallo coleslaw. Two had a good-looking fish platter, while the others had hefty rice and seafood dishes. Most thumbs were up.

Towards the end of the meal, the karaoke machine was fired up. As a warm-up, they played oompah music that wouldn't have been out of place in a German beerhall. I expected Heino to show up at any second. We ate dessert while folks warbled Englebert Humperdinck. Kathleen managed to be serenaded by one singer. Those who had dessert went for either a sweet leche cake, or a pineapple pie that tasted more like apple.

One final winning factor: the bill. Seven of us stuffed ourselves for $114, including booze and tax. One margarita was left off, but the waitress let it go.

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