It’s been awhile since I’ve done a restaurant review. I hadn’t really planned to do one today, but I kind of stumbled into one. For lunch today I visited the Cabana Bar and Grill, located in the former Haus Edelweiss on Wade Hampton. I had actually pulled in just to get a shot of the new sign and picture of the business that had replaced Haus Edelweiss. I saw several cars in the parking lot, and there was a sign that said “Open”, so I decided to check it out.
As mentioned, this was once Haus Edelweiss. I had a chance to speak to the owner, who told me that they had been friends with the owners of Haus Edelweiss. Her mother had been catering in the area, so when the restaurant came available, they took the opportunity to establish their own place. I was told that they hope to feature lots of Latin American dishes, but for now they are focusing on Colombian cuisine.
The restaurant has only been open for two weeks.
The basic internal configuration hasn’t change from the previous tenant. The dining area has always been a bit…weird. It’s divided in such a way that there are three small rooms, each with about three or four tables. There were emblems from Mexico, Colombia, and other Latin American countries, so it was hard to tell what cuisine was featured from the decor.
As I entered, I spotted someone who looked like a waitress at one of the tables to my right. She acknowledged me, but didn’t respond further. I didn’t know if I was supposed to wait to be seated or just pick a table. When no one else responded further, I picked the latter, and sat down.
Looking around, the room behind me was sparse, but there was a large TV on the wall. The counter had been redesigned as a small bar with another TV. As for customers, there was a table in the larger room with four guys that sounded like tech guys, or possibly teachers/professors. A Spanish speaking couple occupied the table closest to mine.
The menu was in Spanish – totally. I was able to make out a good bit of it. There were appetizers, a few sandwiches (Hamburguesas y Perros Calientes). The appetizers and sandwiches ran from $5 to nearly $8. However, most of it were more substantial dishes. These ran from $7 up to $13. While I recognized most of the phrases, I really couldn’t get a feel for the entire menu, even with help.
I ordered “Pechuga de Pollo Asado.” I recognized “pollo asado” as something I used to like quite a bit, so I was hoping this would fit the bill. This would come with rice and fried plantains. This would be washed down with a diet Pepsi, although I noticed that the Spanish-speaking couple had ordered some very interesting frozen drinks.
When I got the plate I was a bit…disappointed. What I got was a grilled chicken breast, plain white rice with nothing else, and your basic French Fries. A single fried plantain half was brought out a bit later.
The meal was incredibly bland. There was no seasoning whatsoever. I put ketchup and salt on the fries. The rice had nothing on it at all – completely plain. The chicken breast was tough and was about as tasteless as everything else.
The waitress brought me a bottle of “pink sauce” which she said that they “put on everything.” It’s supposedly mayonnaise based, but I have no idea what makes it pink. It added a modicum of flavor to the chicken, but that was about it. Even the plantain was boring.
I think my waitress was one of the owners. As stated previously, things were a bit confusing when I was being seated. My waitress was helpful, but not efficient. I got drink refills a few minutes after running out, but that was after rationing my sips. It took quite awhile for my food to come out.
In fairness, the waitress apologized for the slowness, citing the fact that they had only been open a couple of weeks and were still working out the kinks.
The owners seem to be quite nice, and were telling me all about their goals and plans for the restaurant. The folks were so friendly that I really wanted to like the food, but I just didn’t. I asked if there were any spicier dishes on the menu, and she said that Colombian cuisine really doesn’t go in for spicy.
OK. So now I know. From a Colombian standpoint this could be a great place, but for my multi-cultural tastes, the blandness was overwhelming. I’ll try to chalk that up to cultural bias, but I’m not sure I want to try it again. I hope that they can find enough clientele that appreciates Colombian cuisine enough to keep them in business.
As for me, I’d love to try Colombian somewhere else, just to make sure that it isn’t ALL that bland.