LaBien Aparecida opened 2 years in October 2016 and is a large place on several floors. Our upstairs area had lower lighting with beige and gray tones with soft background music in both Spanish and English. Tables are set with cloth runners and matching napkins. The room is decorated with interesting wood frames that arch across the ceiling. Service was efficient but slightly cold – maybe they did not speak much English, but then I didn’t see much interaction with any table other than from the woman who took your order. At times the pacing seemed rushed, to the point that plates were taken as soon as you downed your last bite.
Tables are set with lightly spiced potato chips and a bread basket is passed. There are 3 types of bread but no explanation of the differences. All were a bit dry and you could see that the cut slices were stored in a basket just covered with a towel. None of the ones we tried had much taste or texture.
They served an amuse bouche of an egg stuffed with tuna and tomato. It was a firmly cooked egg and accented with one crouton for crunch. There was lots of mayonaisse-like sauce. It was basically good.
Baby squids, mushrooms and farm egg also had spinach, ham and onion. The mushrooms had the texture of canned ones and little taste. The squid seemed more adolescent than of the baby variety. Here the texture of the dish was better than the taste which was just okay.
The Hake Pilpill (light garlic sauce) with “cococha” and cuttlefish noodles. The hake was perfectly cooked and plated with crispy squid ink. Unfortunately the squid noodles tended to clump and everything had a mild taste. The sauce seemed sticky or greasy and just too bland. It was a dish with a nice composition that just didn’t measure up. The fish was great but it needed stronger flavors to go with it.
Creamy rice with chicken and vegetables was seasoned heavily with red pepper. It was cooked with the rice still being al dente. When they divided the dish for us they put all dark meat on one plate and white on the other. The dark really worked better with the long cooking, to not get dry and tough. Nothing really wrong with the dish just another one with a dirth of flavor.
For dessert we tried the “Pan perdido” or baked French toast with vanilla ice cream – a favorite of mine in New Orleans. The baked toast was more like a custard than a pudding – very firm. It was nicely caramelized on the top and dusted with cinnamon. The ice cream added some moistness to the dish that was mostly creamy and sweet. I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Vanilla cream with sugary puff pastry and Ratafia mousse was much better. It was little square pillows of puff pastry surrounded by a custard sauce. It was rich with good textures. It was sweet and nice – a winner here.
They brought a gin and tonic on the house with apple in it and then a last treat of gooey dense pound cake dusted with powdered sugar. It was very moist but had no particular flavor other than sweet.