After galavanting around the globe this holiday season, returning home to St. Louis was both a relief and a let down. I was so happy to just sit down for a while; in my own apartment, on my couch, in my sweats…
At the same time, I couldn’t figure out why I was being forced to wake up early to go to work, why no one was cooking my meals for me, and most importantly… why no one was making my bed and tidying up after me on a daily basis.
Frankly, the shock of being treated like a “nobody” was starting to wear on me. Luckily, I’ve got my girl friends and they always have a solution. What is that solution? Eating. (Of course.)
As usual, the For the Love of Food girls and I gathered together and went out for an ethnic night on the town. We had already tried Nicaraguan, Russian, Ethiopian, Greek, Thai and more… so this time we decided to go for something a little more exotic: Peruvian.
To get the full Peruvian experience, Emma, Sarah, Adriane, Jenny and I went to a little place called Mango in downtown St. Louis. Mango has a pretty good rep in STL; in fact, it was winner of “The Best of St. Louis” for South American Cuisine.
Upon arriving, I discovered one of the few negatives of Mango–it’s downtown, so the parking costs $5. Bah! I hate paying to park my car. Luckily, other than that, the experience was delightful.
I walked in and found an upscale, loft-style environment. It was that dark and moody atmosphere that simulated a chic yet comfortable evening. In fact, it even had a dark velvet curtain that covered the door and made me immediately forget all of those thoughts of being a “nobody.”
After fighting my way through the heavy curtain, I realized that I was the first one to arrive (this won’t surprise any of my close friends), so I sidled up to the bar and browsed the menu. I’ll report that I was very happy with the pleasant service; a nice bartender came over and chatted with me a bit–he also offered me a free sample of their sangria. Ah, a man who knows the true way to my heart… free alcohol.
Anywho, the sangria was fantastic. In fact, it was so great that once the girls did arrive, we decided to order a pitcher! With that important order out of the way, we browsed the menu and asked our spunky, spikey haired waitress for her advice.
As usual, our ordering method is to request several plates of food and share them–family style. It allows us to try a lot of different things (and usually keeps the bill lower).
For this meal, we ordered the Yuca Frita, Anticuchos de Pollo, Empanada, Lomo Saltado, and Pollo en Salsa de Mango. If that all sounds like a lot of mumbo jumob, you aren’t alone. Luckily, I’m here to explain.
The first three items were appetizers–yuca fries, chicken skewers, and a beef empanada. The yuca fries were probably the most exotic thing that arrived with the appetizer course. In case you didn’t know, yuca is basically a denser and slightly sweeter version of the potato. These fries were crispy, heavy, and oh so very tasty (especially with the cream sauce that came with them).
After finishing off the apps, we moved on to our main dishes: a chicken breast covered with mango salsa and a beef strip dish that came with onions and (oddly enough) french fries. Both of them were delicious–particularly the beef. They were wonderful when eaten simultaneously as well, because the chicken was sweet and the beef was savory. A lovely combination.
I also forgot to make note that, while we waited for different courses to arrive, we munched on some plantain chips and a green chile sauce that the waitress continued to replenish. These were absolutely addictive. I’m a big fan of banana chips… but, I think that plantain chips are my new favorite; especially because when compared to the banana chip, they are a little less sweet and very light and crunchy.
Speaking of plantains, the final course of the meal was definitely the best. Dessert. We ordered two (hey, there were five of us!) — the chocolate torte and the caramelized plantains. The chocolate torte was good, but enough about that… the plantains were the real star of the show. They were rich and delicious, roasted, covered in caramel, and paired with vanilla ice cream. Each bite was like a little taste of heaven. I’ve always believed that bananas are a little too sweet and a lot too mushy; so the plantains lower sugar content and firmer texture was perfect.
Overall, the meal was a great success. The food was yummy and interesting–but, not too daring (for those of you who aren’t super into ethnic food). I’d definitely recommend Mango for anyone who wants to try something a little different without going too crazy.