It takes fairly adventuresome diners to bypass restaurants with comfortably familiar menus and take a chance on a cuisine they’ve never tried.
And despite the great ethnic variety in the metro area – and the popularity of a certain Venezuelan baseball player – the fare of Venezuela is something rather exotic here.
Just two months ago, Vanessa Gonzalez and Christopher Garrido and their extended family opened their small corner of Caracas in a former yogurt shop in Grosse Pointe Woods and began serving the arepas, cachapa and paella of their country.
It’s just the second Venezuelan restaurant in the metro area – with El Rey de Las Arepas in southwest Detroit being the other. Arepas, corn cakes or flatbreads, served split and filled with a variety of savory fillings, head the breakfast/lunch menu at Garrido’s. They come stuffed with pulled chicken and avocado, or with Colby or mozzarella cheeses, or with garlicky shrimp or items from a list of other possibilities from roasted eggplant to chorizo.
They are eaten sandwich style, and often served with an avocado/cilantro sauce called guasacaca that looks and tastes much like guacamole, or with pico de gallo. (The wise will ask for a knife and fork.) Cachapa are corn dough pancakes to which fillings may also be added.
And in a nice little cross-cultural gesture, Garrido’s offers both french fries and fried plantains.
But that’s far from all. Diners have many more choices in the evening, when such dishes as paella, beef tenderloin carpaccio and lime-marinated shrimp, fish and octopus with peppers, red onion and fresh cilantro are on the menu starting at 5 p.m., with nothing higher than $16 for paella. Dishes are nicely served on big white plates. The glossy menus include photos, a nice touch with an unusual cuisine.
Despite the family ownership, this is not a mom-and-pop restaurant, but considerably more polished, with noticeably good housekeeping in the one-room premises done up in red and gold. Vanessa Gonzalez handles the front of the house, with Christopher Garrido and his father and partner, David Garrido, in the kitchen in crisp whites. Both studied at the High Training Educational Institute (HTEI), a culinary arts school in Caracas.
While they wait for a beer and wine license to accompany the fare, the family offers an interesting list of brewed-to-order blends of loose tea with ingredients including mango, ginger, rose hip, dried fruit and spices, as well as coffee and San Pellegrino soft drinks.
Garrido’s seats just 32 at well-spaced tables and the granite counter overlooking the coffee- and tea-making has room for seven.
Garrido’s Bistro & Pastry
19605 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods
Call: (313) 466-3042
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon.
Prices: Breakfast and lunch dishes $5-$11.50, appetizers $6.50-$11.50, entrees $11.50-$16, housemade desserts $2-$6.50.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: No. A beer and wine license has been applied for
Noise level: Quiet
Wheelchair access: No barriers