Thursday, July 23, 2009
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Okay, folks let me give it to you straight. When it comes to American, Southern home cooking, Aunt B's is the undisputed champ. Having said that, if you divide the choices in Camden into Aunt B's and "all others," my current belief is that Mangos may very well be at the very pinnacle of "all others." You definitely want to try this place at your very earliest opportunity. Your only regret will be that you can't try some of everything on the menu during your first visit. But be patient: you will be back many times.
I arrived today at 1300 HRS for my first visit. The dining area is cozy, but the owner was very helpful in moving a table or two to accommodate me in my wheelchair. He had no clue who I was, by the way. As you can see from the menu, the place has a heavy Cuban and a slight Mexican influence. What may not jump out at you is that the owner(s?) are from Venezuela. Picking up on the Cuban influence from some of the menu items and knowing the epic and legendary Cuban love affair with puerca,
I opted for the Pernil (see "Pork"). Oh, man! Those generous, slow -roasted chunks of pork had obviously been thoroughly marinated in an exceedingly tasty, tangy, marinade, then roasted to tender, juicy perfection with just a hint of crispiness on the outside. It was served with generous helpings of fluffy white rice, black beans, and fried plantains.
In the middle of the plate was a dollop of delicious pico de gallo from very fresh ingredients. There was also a fist-sized chunk of great Cuban bread basted in seasoned butter then toasted. The beans and rice were neither cooked together nor served one atop the other, but side-by-side. The black beans had been so thoroughly drained before plating that there was not a spec of black bean liquor on the plate. Moreover, the beans were cooked to just barely on the done side of al dente. They were delicious. This was all washed down with good, strong, iced tea. No doubt, many of the dishes on the menu would be great with an ice-cold cerveza. Whatever you do and whatever you order, be very sure that your waitperson brings you a bottle of their proprietary "green sauce" (they're working on a name for it). This should in no way be confused with the salsa verde you may have dipped your chips in at a Mexican restaurant. This sauce has ZERO Scoville units.
The recipe is a secret, but I think that it may be a combination of buttermilk, mayo, sour cream, pureed cucumbers, and very finely chopped cilantro in moderation. It is so good and you will be amazed to learn that it is good with virtually everything on your plate! Oh, and those sweet, fried, plantains are delicious with that tangy pork. Oh, yeah, the ambiance: the food is so delicious and the service and prices so good that you would hardly care, but the good news is that it is nice. You would definitely score major points taking a date there - even an "Obama date." Small; cozy; most tables have white linen; tastefully decorated - not a sombrero, pinata, or plaster toreador and bull anywhere in sight. Just tasteful artwork and a huge defunct clock on the wall. A small bar with a sizable wine rack in the corner. They don't push the booze on you either. I entered the place at 1300 and was eating by 1312. Don't miss this one: it is definitely a winner and a keeper. They will do quite well. Oops! I forgot to tell y'all where it is. Take Hwy 40 to Gross Rd. Turn north onto Gross Road. Turn left at the first driveway beyond the Coastal Bank. It's in that long brick building back off of the road a ways. They have limited, but well marked and well sized disabled parking.
Posted by Jay Moreno at 3:11 PM