October 6, 2012

69 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
I recently went out for a lunch date with A to Sonido, the bright and cheery Columbian cafe on Gertrude Street. It was drizzling with rain when we arrived, and Sonido provided a happy refuge from the weather.

We did stop briefly on our way in so that I could take a photo of A looking like some sort of giant at the kiddie tables outside.

The cafe is quite small and pleasantly crowded. Owners Santiago and Carolina are very friendly and helpful with the menu, most of which was new to me. A and I especially enjoyed checking out all the paraphernalia on the walls, including old records, porcelain animals, dancing shoes, tribal masks, packets of polenta, dolls and wrestling books. Sick music, too. A mis-matched group of chairs, benches, stools and crates act as seats; a tumble of shape and colour.

Here are those cute paprika jars I last featured in my NYE post; I’ve since discovered that they can be purchased from Case Iberica on Johnston Street.
The coffee here is, unsurprisingly, excellent, in addition to being fair trade organic. It’s quite strong and almost bitter so I would recommend adding sugar if you prefer a weaker roast. The hot chocolates here are in Columbian style; that is, served with cheese – I’m keen to return and try one!
I tried one of the fruit juices available, all using fruits native to South America. My guanabane juice had an interesting taste; at first I didn’t like it, but I think that’s due to it being served at room temperature rather than chilled and the thick texture, both of which I wasn’t used to. After a while it grew on me; it’s not overly sweet but has a gentle, sour taste to it, perhaps like apple juice with a tad of orange and guava is the closest I can get to describing it.

The menu covers a pleasing selection of arepas and empanadas, with various toppings/fillings. I was sorely tempted by the arepas de queso, served with a queso fresco filling and a suggested eating tactic of approaching ‘these bad boys with a buttered knife in one hand and a salt shaker in the other’!

Meals here are a casual affair, with cutlery served from woven baskets and dishes presented neatly but simply.

A had a serve of the Arepas (a flat, corn-based bread, all gluten free except for one option on the menu) with frijoles and feta, plus a side serve of salsa and guacamole, and greatly enjoyed it. ‘Delish!’, he declared.

I had a similar dish, the Ropa Vieja-Arepa, ‘Old Clothes’; an arepa topped with shredded beef stewed with a secret Cuban recipe (‘don’t tell Fidel we’re cooking this!’ jokes the menu). It was absolutely delicious, and did indeed look like old washed clothes. The arepas have a lovely charred taste, and the flavoursome beef was brightened by the tangy salsa and guacamole.

As you can probably tell, I loved Sonido, from the friendly owners to the cheerful decor and the affordable, delicious food. It is well worth a visit if you’re up that end of Gertrude, and it’s location close to the Royal Exhibition Building makes it the perfect place for a post-exams lunch for any Melbourne uni student readers. Best of luck passing on those cheese-filled arepas!

Sonido! on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Columbian, Fitzroy