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Monday, January 4, 2010
La Rumba in Bogota, Colombia: Andres Carne de Res, Where the Hips Don't Lie
You were not really in Colombia unless you went to a rumba. A rumba is a party, Colombian style, where there's food, drink, and dancing.The food should be ample fuel for the cumbia and salsa spins and twirls, the aguardiente to loosen your morals, and the place to be on fire.
Andres Carne de Res is famous for its bawdy, frenetic rumba. Located about 45 minutes out of town in Chia, is by all counts well worth the drive. Recently, they opened one right in the Zona Rosa neighborhood in Bogota, across from the Andino Mall.
The Bogota Andres Carne de Res is less rustic than its Chia branch, but packs the same punch. Convinced by my great friend Patricia, and another Bogotano that accompanied us that night, we would do just fine to rumba right here in Bogota.
Andre Carne de Res is an adult theme park of booze, food, and dance. The restaurants website states that Andres Carne de Res isn't a restaurant, bar, nor a dance hall, it's a deluded journey into insanity.
The restaurant has four themed floors, the top being Heaven. Heaven(cielo) is a quite place for families with children to preserve their innocence.The third floor is purgatory(purgatorio), for those still capable fo redemption. Below is Earth(tierra)where diners are laid to rest before the party begins. Lastly, Hell(infierno), where the hips shake, bodies writhe in seductive ambulation, the bacchanalia unfolds, and the flirtations are dead serious.
The huge kitchen on the third floor is amply staffed to feed the hungry rumberos(partiers) with traditional Colombian plates.
We were seated next to the dance floor a few minutes after arriving thanks to my gift of gab. There were circus-like characters dancing around the restaurant, on a stage or just about anywhere they can find a little room to wiggle.
It's a good idea to take a walk around this massive restaurant, my tour of all floors lasted about 15 minutes. The wait staff shows you the fire exits once you are seated and puts your jackets and purses in a pad-locked bag that only you have the key to, so you can dance uninhibited.A wild ride indeed.
WHether in Chia or this Bogota outpost, the tables are always packed and the conversation just oozes out of each booth.
There's so much energy and stimulation that I barely noticed a loud birthday parade across the other side of the dance floor, musicians and sparklers sizzling amidst the chaos.The restaurant may remind you of being in a four story House of Blues rearranged for efficiency, where food, music, and dance collide.
But the dancing has begun and we haven't ordered yet, oh and the drinks!
Tender coconut and sliced oranges are served to whet your appetite.These are a new obsession, why doesn't everybody have coconut and orange slices?
Classic empanadas de carne from Andres' kitchen are filled with well seasoned ground beef with firm yet giving fried batter. Colombian aji(spicy dipping sauce), the standard empanada dance partner was as delicious as everything we had that night. I think everything tastes better inside this wild, party palace.
Arepas(white corn patty)of all styles, shapes, and sizes are ubiquitous in Colombia, not just the usual semi-firm discs we find in LA. It was time to try the arepa with fried cheese. Here it comes with a Colombian gathering of mouth-watering toppings. Hogao(like a Colombian sofrito), ground beef, cheese from the Colombian state of Antioquia,guacamole,aji,chicharrones,and beans.
I adorned this arepa with all the typical condiments at our disposal.Each one of them were great. This place has an extensive menu, and does a fantastic job of making quality food in respect to the tremendous output of the kitchen.
Sobrebarriga, the Colombian creole standard looked like a nice way to round out the dining protion of our evening.It gets its name from the cut of meat that lies just above the stomach of the steer.The sauce is tomato based with a lot of cumin giving it its yellow color. This dish gets its flavor and supple texture from long cooking over low heat.
The only drawback with the Bogota Andres Carne de Res is they have fewer menu items, but the offerings here are still formidable. The grilled meats are famous here, but I had reached the meat threshold the day before, so we three shared these dishes and saved some room for dancing!!
The frozen mandarina(mandarin orange)drink is highly recommended here. It has a fun hollowed out coconut shell for a cup, every detail at Andres Carne de Res has been orchestrated and given its due attention. The mandarin flavor is intensely fresh, so good it goes down like water.
A shot of Colombian Santa Fe rum, we became well acquainted over this short trip, arrived with a glass of ice, but this one goes does just fine, neat.Though,Colombians prefer these rums with a glass of ice and some coke, and for the cheaper rums, I can't say I blame them.
Another worthy attraction in Colombia is definitely the beautiful women, who surely know how to work it on the floor.Colombians, like Brazilians, are natural dancers.We met these lovely Rolas(girls from Bogota),Jenny and Sandra as they were slamming shots at the table next to us.
The dance floor, once the first couples got up, stayed full until long after we departed.
The music had everything from local rythyms, cumbia and Colombian salsa, to reggaeton, to Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson.Patricia can tear up the dance floor, although I couldn't quite hang on the Colombian salsa tunes, we were doing just fine on Pit Bull's "I Know You Want Me".
After about seven straight songs, I finally got to have a bottle of Poker beer. It was my last night and I had mostly come across Club Colombia, Aguila, and Costena during my trip.The restaurant puts little wings on the bottle, so that they can fly into your mouth. Another added touch that makes Andres Carne de Res a fun place to spend an evening, and the perfect last hurrah in Bogota.
The table next to us had the right idea for a proper rumba. Get a bottle of aguardiente, plunge it in a bucket of ice, and continuously fill shot glasses.A bottle of water should be on the table to mix with the anise-flavored aguardiente. This ritual is practiced in the restaurants, bars, homes, and on the streets of Bogota. Millions passing around shots of aguardiente in a hands across the nation manner.We shared a little rumba with these viviacious Bogotanos.
As a final thought from the mind of Senor Andres de Res, a Mastercard logo shaped box arrives with your check.Fastened to the box, a mini-flashlight, magnifying glass, and a pen to assist you in paying the check.
I too plan to go to Chia someday to experience the original, but check out the Bogota branch, you won't be missing a thing. Classic Colombian comfort food and grilled meats, lovely Rolas(Bogota women)dancing with coquetish smiles, the intense energy of Bogota and its spirited people,la rumba, aguardiente, and the wild abandonment of Andres Carne de Res.This is required partying when in Bogota.
Andres Carne de Res
Calle 82 # 11 - 57
82 y Calle T
12:00 m a 3:00 a.m.
also in Chia
calle 3 No. 11A-56
Chia, Colombia, El Mundo