Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This picture of my leftover paella vegetariana from Sofrito does not do any justice to this dish. Lacking my camera at this Puerto Rican restaurant in East Midtown, I couldn't capture the colorful presentation of green and red peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, asparagus, carrots, corn, peas, olives, and onions that decorated the steaming mound of seasoned rice.
I really do think Latin American food is fantastic, minus the fact that it's not the most vegetarian-friendly cuisine this side of the hemisphere. I usually get a raised eyebrow from waiters at Mexican, Brazilian, Colombian, and Puerto Rican restos, who can't believe that I don't at least want some chicken with my rice & beans, plantains, and sorry-looking array of obligatory peppers and onions that are the only vegetable accompaniments to some meals. Though the only vegetarian entree at Sofrito was the vegetable paella, ordering it didn't elicit any strange stares or any "you sure that's all you want, mami?" (yes, I've heard this before!) from the waiter.
But I was thoroughly impressed! For just $15, I was given a heaping bowl of that delicious paella, and even after I'd eaten my fill, it still looked as if I hadn't put a dent in that generous pile of rice and veggies. In addition to my satisfying meal, albeit a bit lacking in protein, the restaurant had a fun, modern look to it, with silver square panels on one wall of the main dining room. And though the live band was just too loud at times to hear my pal across the table from me, the dining room soon returned to audible levels after the band packed up at 9pm-ish. Vegetarian diners also have their choice of veggie empanadas, a watercress and avocado salad, and a white bean and vegetable soup if veggie paella isn't your thing- and that's it. Limited options aside, which is to be expected, Sofrito's veggie options are solid and a great value; and for guzzling very generous glasses of sangria and laughing loudly with friends, I'd visit Sofrito again for a good time!
Sofrito, 400 E. 57th Street, between 1st Avenue & Sutton Place, 212-754-5999