Monday, February 28, 2011

The Reviews: Nuela / Platanos Y Collard Greens

It’s important to keep the embers of romance burning in long-term relationships and BD and I do this by creating a date night…our latest venture had us visit one of my new-found favorite eateries – Nuela and taking in Platanos y Collard Greens - an off-Broadway production.

NUELA: Located in New York City’s Flatiron district, Nuela (43 W 24th Street) is a Peruvian Fusion restaurant that opened last July or so. We first visited Nuela in August 2010 and although it was brand new it captured my attention with its creative and mouth-watering fare. They’ve basically fused Latino flavors with a palate pleasing mixture of odd delicacies to create flavors you’ve never experienced before. Hot on their menu – the Ceviche – specifically the Corvina (ceviche tipico), the Chifa Empanadas – with rock shrimp and pork and my main course this go-round, their Lobster “Chupe” – a butter poached lobster – were are out of this world. BD had their lamb and we also shared their Chinese Broccoli, Papa a la Huancaina and their arroz. The portions are modest, but the flavors are so interesting and the food so well prepared, that you will be completely satisfied. I’m BIG on good service and the service at Nuela is top notch. Our server was completely versed on the dishes, the perfect pairings for side dishes and the wine service and he was attentive to have the courses arrive at their right time. You get what you pay for and Nuela is proof positive of this…expect to shell out upward of $80 per person for your average dinner.

PLATANOS y COLLARD GREENS: Although BD insists that I am bourgeois and incapable of enjoying any production off Broadway, the truth is that I’ve given a thumbs-up to plenty a basement-budget, off-Broadway show. Heck, I’ve even found myself giving a rousing standing ovation to off-off-Broadway experiences that were small, but smart and inventive. For starters, let me say that I genuinely WANTED to love this production. Platanos Y Collard Greens is the brainchild of David and Jamillah Lamb. The couple believe that P&C is thought-provoking and hilarious and advertise the production as a romantic comedy…a budget challenged West Side Story, if you will. The play should have all the ethnic charm that lends itself to a funny and nostalgia-inducing show. I mean, it revolves around the relationship between the New York Latino and African American communities. If there’s anyone who could have been recruited as a consultant for relationships between Blacks and Latinos, it’s me. Lord knows I’ve dated my share of Black men. Problem is, the point of reference used for P & C appears dated…like maybe you’re telling the story from the viewpoint of my parents when they arrived to NYC 40 years ago. Today’s NYC Latino and Black communities are a lot more interwoven….with admittedly similar challenges. P & C appears to prey on the belief that the NYC Latino community is NOT aware of their African roots or that the Latino community in NYC generally believes that they are somehow better than the African American community. These are beliefs that may have existed decades ago, but clearly are NOT the case today. Leon Joseph as the lead in the play and the African American love interest to Hjordy Matos’, the Dominican female lead appear mismatched. Joseph was gangly (although his later shirtless physique proved he was quite the hard body) to the waifish Matos. If Joseph wasn’t so silly and immature, he would almost appear more threatening that romantic toward Matos. He seems a bit unrefined and awkward when scenes called for him to be tender. Preston Taylor – a character actor who played the role of “Nah-Mean” was actually brilliant. His ability to draw the attention of the audience away from the leads each time he hit the stage was uncanny. In the end, the actors seem greener than Platanos and the storyline hits the pit of your stomach like dirty collard greens. It doesn’t help that the play takes over two-and-a-half hours to get its point across. Some light moments are sprinkled throughout and they may keep you giggling but save Preston Taylor as “Nah-Mean” this script and cast are due for an overhaul.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

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