Have you been to Institute Bar yet? There's whiskey. There's Wii. Surely you like one of those things.
Last week, I had the pleasure of sampling the vegetarian dishes that the owners have planned for their upcoming Puerto Rican menu. They're looking to roll out their island cuisine on the tentative date of May 8, but I couldn't wait. I craved plantains. I wanted to know about Recaíto. My heart beats for sofrito.
Here's the rundown:
Chilled mango soup - Cinnamon, cinnamon, and more cinnamon. Here's to hoping they thin out this chunky puree a bit. Vegan.
Avocado salad - Holy tang. Not the orange drink. This app was beyond refreshing, a melange of avocado bits, mango, FRESH tomatoes, marinated in a slap of garlic and citrus. 'Twas a hit. Vegan.
Veggie burger - I feel like a better person for having eaten this. The white bean-based patty was perfected with the right amount of fat and texture from coconut-milked bread crumbs. Can't wait to try it on a bun. Vegan.
Plantain fritters w/ sofrito dipping sauce - This housemade sofrito could make anything taste great, so I had to try the plantain fritters sans sauce to realize that they, too, were incredible. Shredded plantain is quite meat-like. Vegan.
Stuffed papaya - This one was difficult to eat, as it required cutting into a not-yet-perfectly-ripe papaya boat that was stuffed with a cheese and fruit mixture that was like the second cousin of rice pudding. Pretty, but not too functional.
Empanadas - The highlight of the tasting for me. These were possibly the best empanadas I've had yet, more of those agreeable shredded plantains shrouded in a golden-fried veil. Vegan.
There will likely be more additions to the final menu, with lots of veggie sides and a couple of desserts for you coconut-milk-lovers. There was much talk of BBQ seitan experimentation. It's like the Seitan Association is paying me sometimes.
Get on over there when they do whip out their Puerto Rican breeze. This is a bar that cares about food.
Institute Bar, 12th & Green.