“How great that you are exposing Tillie to so many ethnic culinary delights!” — Tillie’s mom’s mom, Aug. 24, commenting on an LWT Facebook link I posted.
Those words lingered in my head when trying to come up with a place for Tillie and me to eat. I also wanted to continue trying to impress my future mom-in-law. What can I say? I’m such a suck-up!
Greetings, neighbors, and welcome to another Lunchtime with Tillie escapade. On this particular one, Tillie Bear and I went to another frequent family stop, “Nuevo Latino” hotspot Luz on Vanderbilt between Myrtle and Willoughby.
“Frequent” almost doesn’t do justice to how much we eat there; we go there a LOT. It’s the first thing out of Tillie’s mom’s mouth, it seems, when a going-out-to-dinner idea is bandied about. As a matter of fact, the night before our lunch trip, we had all just been there for a drink and appetizer! (Tillie’s mom loves the mango margaritas!)
Anyway, after wrapping up a little playground activity on Dekalb, we set off to grab something to eat. I was toting along some pureed carrots and sliced grapes for Tillie in case she didn’t have it up to eat anything out of the ordinary and wanted to ruin my in-law-impressing plans.
There was a ton of options, but maybe it was a case of that being a bad thing because I couldn’t make up my mind on where to go, so I decided to check out Myrtle. We walked down Vanderbilt and saw that Luz was open. I thought to myself (because it would be kind of weird for me to say this aloud), “Hmmm. I didn’t even know Luz was open for lunch. Why not check it out? Tillie always has bites of our arepas, plus her mom gives her tastes of my cilantro mashed potatoes. This could be a winner.”
After that mini-soliloquy, we went in and the place was completely devoid of customers. I had to ask the guy that greeted us if they were definitely open! We pretty much had our pick of where to sit, so I grabbed us a spot where we could easily have room for the high chair and I wouldn’t have to fold up the stroller.
I got a menu and gave it a good looking-over or three because there was so much to choose from, plus remember, I was eating for two as I planned to give Tillie some nibbles. I went in thinking arepas and mashed potatoes, but everything seemed tempting to me. Do I go with one of the sandwiches? I’ve seen other people eat them during brunch and they all look good. But then what would Tillie eat? A yucca fry? That’s no good. The half-chicken with a side of mashed potatoes, and maybe some spinach? Naw, that’s usually my dinner specialty and seems like a lot to deal with.
I decided to go with the arepa de queso for an appetizer and the salmon al pimienton, served with a fried shrimp garnish over cilantro mashed potatoes. I felt kind of weird ordering an appetizer at lunch; I mean, geez, who does that? Luckily I was counting on Tillie to help me out with all that food!
It didn’t take long for the first course to arrive: the arepas! I let T have the first bite, and the way she took to them let me know that they were good to go. The tiny corn cake sandwiches topped with a little feta cheese and a cilantro pesto were cooked to perfection. Tillie missed out on the full flavor of the arepas because I didn’t give her any pieces with the feta or pesto (I’ve been kind of slack in my what-babies-can-eat reading), but she seemed good.
After those were out of the way, I thought it would be a good time to slip some carrots into the mix (hers, not mine). These were mostly her breakfast ones she didn’t eat, but they got taken care of at this time of day, which made me feel good.
Then, the main course arrived: a nice piece of salmon over a bed of the aforementioned cilantro mashed potatoes. It wasn’t your standard lunch fare, but it was tasty, nonetheless. The salmon was glazed with some red sauce I found to be kind of sweet, and it had a nice contrast with the potatoes. And the mashers worked for Tillie, too. My arm was starting to get sore from feeding her so much!
I think she got pretty full as she only ate a few grapes afterward. Usually, I’m feeding her fruit until the cows come home. But I’m glad she was sated; I was, too, so it was check time.
I got the bill and it was 20 bucks (yikes!) — way more than I’d recommend usually spending for lunch. But like I said earlier, the meal was done with both of us in mind. And just because I was a little loose with the lettuce, you don’t have to be. The sandwiches that I touched on earlier — and which are huge! — are only $9, for example. The restaurant’s space is plentiful, plus the staff is extra-accommodating and friendly — big reasons for our family’s return visits: that and the food, of course!
All in all, it’s a great place to go if you want to wake up your child’s taste buds.
And you might get to earn some in-law brownie points, too!