Growing up in a Hispanic family, Sunday breakfast often consisted of homemade arepas with scrambled eggs. The smell of sizzling diced tomatoes and scallions (my favorite additions) would waft from the kitchen into my bedroom, waking me up in the most comforting way. That memory is undoubtedly why I was so eager to try the Benedict Colombiano at Macondo on the Lower East Side. If it could bring me back to the flavors of home, I knew I risked developing a dangerous addiction. Luckily for me, brunch at Macondo is a decent deal--the entrees, though priced around $14, come with a complimentary drink. Not bad.
The Benedict Colombiano is simple in its composition, mimicking its traditional counterpart. A sweet yellow corn arepa replaces the English muffin, and a saffron lemon aioli is a welcome change from Hollandaise. The flavors and textures are far from simple, though. The arepa is made thicker than usual, and with less of a sear, acting more like a corn muffin with spot-on flavors that reminded me of home. The unctuous yolk and rich aioli play off each other nicely, benefiting from the lemon's subtle acidity. Complex? Definitely. Comforting? Even more so.
If the staff at Macondo makes one thing clear, it's that they take their food very seriously at all times of the day--not only will they make sure you know all about their "estilo libre latino," but they're also likely to ask you to discuss your thoughts on each course. They're a tad excessive in this department; but I'll let it slide for a good taste of home.