Thursday, March 12, 2009

Latino flavor in Baltimore

Table Talk: South American Grill brings more Latino flavor to the area
By Elizabeth Large | Baltimore Sun Restaurant Critic March 11, 2009

South American Grill

South American Grill's Arlin Bleclic shows off the Prato Feito House Plate, which includes steak, egg, beans and salad. (Baltimore Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby / March 5, 2009)

Latino restaurants are clearly the Next Big Thing, but authentic places haven't exactly proliferated in this area except for the small businesses in East Baltimore. That may be changing. We saw the excitement generated by the Mari Luna Latin Grille in Pikesville. Now the South American Grill (574 Cranbrook Road, 410-628-0188) has opened in the Cranbrook Shopping Center in Cockeysville. (This is where the Ugly Muffin used to be.) Owner/chef Arlin Bleclic's wife, Anna Paula, is a native of Brazil, so the menu, he says, "leans toward Brazilian dishes."

The place is casual, with prices running from $7 to $16. The house specialties are a signature steak, picanha (a rump cut); Brazilian fried snacks; and yuca fries.

An offbeat feature of the grill is a sort of do-it-yourself "style meal." You pick the meal - a platter, wrap, sandwich or bun. Then you pick the filling or meat. Finally, you pick what style you want (in other words, what South American country's way of preparing it).

The South American Grill, which is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, is BYOB.

Cuadrado on North Avenue Sometime this fall, which will be here quicker than you think, Joe Edwardsen of Joe Squared Pizza will be opening another Latino restaurant, Cuadrado, at 128 W. North Ave., across the street from his pizza place. Cuadrado, which means "square" in Spanish, will be a barbacoa, serving smoked meats wrapped in banana and agave leaves, seasonal ceviche and other South American dishes, with the emphasis on Mexican. Live music and a tequila bar will be part of the mix.

The space needs major renovation - that's why it's taking so long - but when it's finished, there will be seating for some 120 people.

I asked Edwardsen about parking; he's leased a lot behind the building, Joe Squared customers will be glad to hear.

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