Sabroso goes for the taste buds

New Latin restaurant features regional dishes from South America

It’s a new year and time to break the mould of your usual dining habits by exploring new cuisines. Enter Sabroso Cocina Neuvo Latino Calgary’s latest answer to Latino dining. Serving up an eclectic blend of regional dishes from South America the new restaurant situated on the somewhat jinxed corner of 16th Avenue and 15th Street S.W. has arrived to shake up your taste buds.

Visiting on a Thursday night the space is half full. I expect it’s much livelier on Fridays and Saturdays when live Latin music is performed but for tonight’s purposes the volume of the room is ideal for conversation with a friend.

Decorated with rustic tin lamp lighting polished concrete floors and various Latin-inspired paraphernalia the room isn’t lavish but it’s comfortable and complementary to the menu.

Sabroso translates to “tasty” in Spanish and I’m excited to try many of the dishes as they certainly sound tasty. Introducing us to the concept our server highlights some of the most popular dishes in addition to explaining that the food has spice but isn’t over the top with heat.

To start we try the albacore tuna tiradito ($14) a Peruvian variation of ceviche that features sliced raw tuna marinated in soy sauce and Peruvian red peppers topped with pickled red onions radishes and celery. We both enjoy it — the salty sweetness of the soy work wells with the tender fresh tuna and the peppers add a soft heat to every bite.

Also from the tapas portion of the menu we get the chicken and black bean tostadas ($12). These flavours are much more subdued with shredded roast chicken refried beans queso fresco and avocado crema on a tostada shell. Served with a side of pico de gallo it’s much milder than your Mexican variety. We like the ingredients but the dish lacks gusto.

Going off our server’s recommendation my friend orders the chimichurri steak an Argentinian favourite ($19). Based on the few bites that I have my guess is that the kitchen is having an off night. The slices of steak are tender enough but the char overwhelms the beef and the sauce is slight. The bites that I sample with heavier sauce are really tasty but sadly there just isn’t enough to go around and the steak comes off as dry and burnt tasting. Too bad.

The story is somewhat the same with the snapper Vera Cruz ($19). It looks delectable upon arrival with a topping of shrimp ceviche and a tomato and olive salad but sadly it is overdone. There’s no cut-with-your-fork tenderness here; for this filet I require both fork and knife. I do like the seasoning used on the fish and the vibrant tomato and olive salad but the fish is overcooked. The accompanying asparagus and crispy roasted potatoes are fantastic but not enough to redeem the dish.

Hoping to finish on a good note we try the brown sugar roasted banana ($9). Drizzled with an almond butter rum sauce the banana pairs perfectly with an accompanying slice of coconut bread. It’s a great dessert — not too heavy or overly sweet.

Although we were somewhat disappointed in our mains I’d return to Sabroso to try additional dishes like the arepa sandwiches (made with grilled Harissa bread) or the anticuchos (shrimp beef or chicken skewers). We enjoyed the kind service drink selections like fresh mojitos and sangria and the laid-back atmosphere. Perhaps I’ll give the lunch service a go next time.