When it comes to Latin America, one may conjure up images of maracas, flamboyance and salsa dancing.
Not a cultural identity that, on the surface, is synonymous with Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton.
However, a new restaurant is looking to bring a touch of this colour to the South Manchester area.
La Esquina Latina restaurant has been open for less than two months, and the place had every vibe of a new youthful kid on the block.
We were greeted warmly, very unlike the weather outside, immediately upon arrival, and the waiter made a point of cracking a couple of jokes as a way of breaking the ice and introducing us to the venue.
The chef, Heman, also came out to introduce himself, and I was struck at how genuine and passionate the whole place was about the food they made and the customers they serve.
Being a food lover, I quickly clocked that there was an underlying element to the meal culture at this place. That culture is a strong emphasis on the hearty meal.
Platters of meat, fish and vegetable are the main choices for one’s main, although there are, of course, a selection of lighter, but nonetheless tempting alternatives.
Indeed, I could have easily eaten solely from excellent buffet cart, containing the sides, appetisers and salads that should really accompany one’s main.
The terrific thing about this buffet cart was you could have as much as you wanted with your main meal.
Heman told us of the six years he had spent in Colombia in a quest for new food and recipes.
When these experiences are combined with family recipes dating back generations, the results placed before you are spectacular.
La Esquina Latina is family owned; we also met Heman’s mother, a very charming woman who, like her son, shared the same warm and honest look as we told them time and again how delicious everything was.
I must also praise our waiter, Carlos, whose cheerful banter, excellent service and, particularly, very impressive recommendation of wine made the experience all the more pleasurable.
Prices may, on the surface, seem a fraction steep. The meat platter itself is around £18. But take my word for it, you are guaranteed value for money as both sides and main are refillable at no extra charge, and whatever Heman puts in that food, it is more than worth it.
What I particularly loved about the place, apart from the unbelievable quality of the food itself, was the delicate touches and intricacies that defines La Esquina Latina.
Such an example is the logistics of ordering seconds, if firsts just isn’t enough for you. Each table is accompanied by a SEMAFORO. This, in Layman’s terms, is a small block with a red end and a green end. Simply display the green end upright if you want more food, and the red end if you are satisfied with what you have.
Something else that captured my heart was a particular beef stew that is literally translated as ‘Beef Stew: To make you love me.
This relates to an experience Heman brought back from is Colombian adventures. In Colombia, when men cook for women, they do so to impress and please them, to make them love them.
Such care and warm-heartedness perfectly encapsulates everything about this wonderful new place, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.