In Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria district, home of grand cathedrals and fine museums like the Museo Botero, you wouldn’t expect a fine dining, Southern – that’s US Southern – style restaurant. Yet Anderson’s is just that. It sits amidst a small strip of several other restaurants on Avenida 6, not far from La Candelaria’s Hotel de la Opera and major tourist attractions like the Garcia-Marquez Cultural Center. The chef of Anderson’s is a Nebraska native who came to Bogotá to study Spanish, married a local girl, and never left.
The small dining room is on the first floor of a beautiful stone building in the heart of the district. There are only a dozen small wooden tables and wooden benches against the walls of each end of the room. Large windows meet the sidewalk, though iron bars and a small curtain keep the passersby from intruding on your meal. A black and white photo of Jazz musicians at what appears to be Bourbon Street dominates one wall, otherwise the décor is minimalistic.
For the menu he uses many recipes that he remembers from growing up on his grandparent’s farm in Nebraska, though there is a decidedly southern feel to most of the dishes. While Colombia might seem unconnected to Louisiana in nearly every way, he has somehow managed to make the restaurant seem right at home. For instance, like on a farm, Colombia tends to use all parts of the hog, hence when there are ribs on the constantly changing menu, house made sausage and bacon will follow. The African slaves and their ancestors that inhabited both parts of the world also heavily influence both cuisines.
Anderson, who is a lanky blond, can be seen in the two person open kitchen and occasionally even taking orders and chatting with diners. The menu, which is printed on paper as they change it often, is small. There are just a handful of options for entrees, main courses and dessert. Appetizers consist of soups, salads, and small plates such as pan-seared chorizo.
The mains are what really stand out though: Shrimp Etouffee, Chuleta de Cerdo (pork chops), Pollo al Pernil (seasoned chicken legs), and grilled Chilean salmon that’s seasoned with kosher salt, ground pepper, and olive oil. In my Lomo al Trapo (beef medallions), which at medium rare were cooked to perfection, there was an extremely interesting and mildly spicy green pepper sauce that went with it. I asked my waitress what exactly it was and Anderson came to the table and explained that he used Tomatillos and a sort of Chipotle pepper that he found at a market in Bogotá. It went well with the meat, and I didn’t mind soaking it up with my crispy hash browns that were served on the plate too, along with a house salad with caramelized pecans, chunks of blue cheese, and an herb vinaigrette.
For dessert, I saw Bananas Foster and ordered it immediately even though at this point there was no room in my stomach. Flambéed with caramelized bananas reduced and spices and served with vanilla ice cream, the New Orleans classic was as good as any I have had in Louisiana.
Price: Main courses range from 23,000-36,000 Colombian Pesos.
Address: AV 6 # 10-19
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.