MY family and I were en route to a pizzeria in Mount Lawley when my wife spotted a funky cafe with bright murals and South American music playing.
We couldn’t resist Medellín’s lively charm and decided to abandon our plans and give the Colombian cafe a go.
Open from 9am-9pm, Medellín does everything from traditional Colombian breakfasts to mains, light snacks and coffees.
The menu listed the ingredients for some dishes, but there was hardly any English descriptions, so we spent the first 10 minutes Googling things like bandeau paisa, arepas, parrillada and tamale.
Sensing we were struggling, the owner eventually came over and helped us order.
The people at the table beside us were a bit baffled too, so some exposition on the menu for Medellín newbies would have been helpful.
The cafe was bright and funky with colourful murals, stylish bench seats and a wall crammed with photos of Colombia, including everything from a family piling onto a scooter to a woman with a native headdress.
They even had a snap of Rene Higuita – the famous Colombian goalkeeper with a dodgy perm who did the “Scorpion Kick” while playing against England.
Latino music was blasting away in the background and the place had a lively vibe.
We kicked off with some yuca chips ($10), which are made from the root of the cassava plant.
Shaped like one of Hannibal Smith’s cigars, these were exotic pudgy French fries and came with a marie rose-style dip.
The chips had a delicious, slightly sweet refrain and were perfectly cooked with a crunchy coating and fluffy innards.
They didn’t last long and we wolfed down this moreish entree. Delicious. On the owner’s suggestion, I went for the arepas Montenara ($18).
My cornmeal cake (arepas) was coated in a mellow, gooey cheese with a massive cut of pork belly and salsa perched on top.
Accompanying the arepas was some smashed avocado, a cooked plantain (a variety of banana) and a massive bowl of frijoles (Mexican beans submerged in a murky viscous sauce).
I was being too refined at first, trying everything individually or in pairs, but a lightbulb went off when I abandoned etiquette and lumped everything together in a messy but tasty ensemble.
The humble frijoles really brought the dish to life, acting as a thick sauce for the cornmeal cake, while the avocado was a cool break from the savoury onslaught, refreshing the palate.
Across the table my young kids were sharing a giant hot dog and chips ($18), which was going down well.
My wife went for the arepas patron ($20) which was piled high with shredded chicken, beef, chorizo and caramalised onions.
“It’s a protein bomb and all the flavours combine to create some decadent comfort food,” she said.
We washed things down with a Postobon Colombiana ($4.50) a super effervescent soft-drink reminiscent of American cream soda.
Colombian cuisine isn’t for people wanting to shed some timber after Christmas, but there were some vegetarian and lighter options available.
There were quite a few South Americans eating in the cafe and I could hear people talking to the owners in Spanish, so it was clearly a popular haunt for Latino ex-pats.
I really enjoyed my meal at Medellín – it’s a fun venue to try authentic Colombian cuisine.
568 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
by STEPHEN POLLOCK