On Wednesday night, my friends and I, excited for some authentic Peruvian cuisine set out for Sabroso on Main, a summer 2013 addition to the forty-some restaurants on Main Street. Overall, the experience was mixed, and I felt that some of the food left much to be desired.
When we arrived at the restaurant around 8 p.m., we found it deserted. While the weeknight generally means fewer customers for a restaurant, I still thought it was odd that the room was so quiet. Over the course of the next hour, until Sabroso closed at 9 p.m., only two other patrons appeared. A 9 p.m. closing time is rather early, even for Middletown, but it may be that Sabroso is trying to establish itself as more of a spot for lunch.
The atmosphere at Sabroso is very casual and boasts both indoor and outdoor seating. We were seated outside immediately upon arrival, and the waitress was eager to answer any questions we had and took our order as soon as we were ready.
We were given our drinks very efficiently—they have coke in glass bottles!—along with a small bowl of crunchy corn with salsa verde. The corn was not markedly bad or good: somewhat chalky, but nice and salty. I appreciated it as a starter because it wasn’t filling, but it satisfied my immediate desire for food.
The rest of the food seemed rather hit-or-miss. I tried three things: a vegetable empanada, a chicken tamale, and a papa rellena. Each dish was served with a chunky tomato and onion salsa, which was delicious. However, the empanada was tepid and soggy, and lacked the perfect vegetable-to-crust ratio. The tamale was cold, wet, and flavorless. It arrived on the plate looking misshaped and unappealing, and the chicken inside was extremely rubbery and chunky, not at all the tender ground chicken I was imagining.
The strongest dish was the papa rellena, a traditional Peruvian course that is essentially a stuffed baked potato; it was delectable. It arrived piping hot, with a crisp exterior and a soft, well-seasoned interior.
None of the dishes was very pricey (the empanada was $3.99, the tamale was $5.99, and the papa rellena was $4.99), but each dish was on the small side. I am a pretty light eater, and I could have easily finished all three dishes. That said, my research is incomplete: some of the sandwiches are only $5.99 and might be significantly more filling.
Another reason that this spot might warrant further exploration is the overwhelmingly positive Internet reviews of Sabroso. Ratings on Yelp averaged an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars, with reviews praising the authentic flavors of the restaurant and citing the rotisserie chicken and pork sandwich as must-haves.
Bottom line: I don’t plan to rush back to Sabroso, although for many it might be worth checking out. The staff is very nice, and although the food really wasn’t up to my standards, if you’re a fierce lover of Peruvian food and are willing to spend some money exploring the menu, you might find some excellent treats.