La Casona is a reasonably well known Columbian restaurant, roughly at the corner of the road that passes Brands Mart USA and the new Super H, and Buford Highway itself. It’s set back; to get to this restaurant, you have to make a sharp 135 degree turn to the right once the feeder meets Buford Highway. This is the place where BuHi’s third get together was held. As a consequence, this is going to be as much a report on the get together as it is the food. To note, the food is good. But some of the more popular items, such as La Casona’s empanadas, were sampled by others, and my impressions are second hand.
Who was there? I was the third to arrive, so already at the eatery were the star of the show himself, and an friend, Lena. It was Lena who suggested this spot. “Reader” soon came. I’m calling him “Reader” as he’s a reader of BuHi’s blog, a Tweeter, and has been at every meeting. I can never remember his name. Also present were Jimmy and Julia, oft found on “285 Foodies”. Julia works for a cheese merchant, and spun wonderful stories of dealing with cheeses. Later Mark, Julia’s husband, arrived.
Opposite where I sat were a friend of Buhi’s, male. Three other people arrived a bit after Buhi’s friend. There was the author of Hopeless Foodies, another blogger, whose name and blog escapes me, and a young lady who was a self described Yelper. I’m sorry if I have forgotten names, it was a dizzying place to be and I have hearing issues with my left ear.
In terms of food, first out was a dessert, a mix of custard and sweet. People seemed to like it. I couldn’t sample. They also had chicharrón (pork rinds), which I could. They’re really not like the kind of pork skins you’ll find at the gas station and quick mart, but more akin to pork belly half sliced into bite sized pieces. Pieces of this taste like thick chewy bacon.
Empanadas came as well. I’ve encountered empanadas since Guam. These were clearly hand molded, a bit smaller than the empanadas I’ve seen in Cuban restaurants in this city. They were very popular with this crowd.
My dish was the muchacho relleno, a beef tenderloin stuffed. Thing is, it’s stuffed not by slicing the steak along the thin dimension, they stuff it by cutting an ‘O’ shaped hole in the middle of the meat and dropping extra goodies in there. I wasn’t expecting that, and it confused me when the dish arrived.
It was good, in a beefy stewy sort of way. Sides for the meals here typically included rice, and either maduros (sweet plantains), or tostones (green plantains, flattened). This led to a discussion of Mojito’s maduros, which are cooked a bit more than others. Actually, that’s the way my wife likes them, a little toasty.
While there, discussions ranged wide and it would be impossible to recount them all. There were discussions of Fung Mei opening on Pleasant Hill (and BuHi made it clear that it was *F*ung Mei), of bad experiences at the old one. We discussed where the old Fung Mei chef went (now if I could just remember where), where good Chinese could be found on Buford, on the ins and outs of chickens, and why “free range” is essentially meaningless. I kind of wish I had sat a little closer to Hopeless Foodie, as I think she has quite a nice site, and the hearing in my left ear isn’t the best in the world.
Before ending this article, I want to step back a little and echo something BuHi said during the dinner. This is that La Casona is going to seem a little different for a typical American, when they enter. But staff here, if given half a chance, will go out of their way to accommodate you. I saw this in their handling of this meal. A lot of attention, a lot of very friendly staff. Yes, the food is a little different from the typical Mexican or Cuban eatery, but thematically a lot the same, and the staff is truly helpful. Of course, with Lena, Jimmy and Julia quite conversant in Spanish, it made things perhaps easier for the whole of us. But in short, la Casona handled this affair quite well, and I not only enjoyed the company, I very much enjoyed the presentation and the food.
Verdict: Go there. Friendly staff, good food. Highly Recommended.
3820 Stewart Rd
Doraville, GA 30340