We took a walk from Newbury Street over to Orinoco in the South End last night. I have some minor quibbles about the place, but overall, the food won me over enough to ignore the little issues I had with the place.
The issues: First of all, the tables are packed in a bit too tightly. We felt like we were having dinner with, well, everyone. And while this isn't a huge problem, it can be when you have a lot of stuff with you (winter coat, bags, etc.). I think next time I may go with two or three people so I can get a window seat and avoid being crammed in.
Second, service was slooooooowwwww. The waiter was very nice, but it took awhile for him to take our order, then our order took a bit too long. We were on a bit of a time schedule, so this was a bit of a problem.
Third, as someone earlier had mentioned, it seems that locals may have an advantage in getting seats if they know the people there and call in advance. I heard such a conversation between owner and local patrons at one point. This is a bit of a turnoff to me, as everyone should be on the same level as far as seating.
The food, however, more than made up for all of this, as everything was simply outstanding. We started with a domino arepa, a type of tortilla that had beans and white cheese. Very tasty stuff. For entrees, we had the pabellon criollo (shredded beef, black beans, rice, carmelized plantains), and the polvorosa de pollo (chicken in a flaky dough with mixed greens). Both were pretty amazing; not sure which I liked better.
I'm thinking that Orinoco will work out some of the kinks, as they are still a new place. I know I will definitely be going back soon, as the food more than makes up for the shortcomings of this great little Venezuelan restaurant.
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