Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cafe Batata

Cafe Batata, 382 Second Street, opened about two months ago with a Brazilian menu focusing on Batata Suíça, a stuffed Swiss-Brazilian potato pancake. They also offer other Brazilian specialties like various croquettes (I tried the plain chicken - slightly dry but great flavor), pao de queijo (light, airy cheese breads that they do an excellent job with here), and brigadeiro (Brazilian chocolate truffles).
The cafe itself is fairly spacious and offers free wi-fi which makes for a nice eating/working environment and is good for small or large groups. The staff is very friendly and will happily answer any and all questions.  They're also serving some excellent organic Brazilian coffee that should not be missed. It's got a rich, deep-roasted flavor but without any bitterness or burnt taste. 
                                                      (iced coffee and pao de queijo)
The batata suicas are shredded potato pancakes with a well-crisped exterior and a softer, chewier interior surrounding a tender, creamy filling of your choice. One of the most popular versions is the Mignon Champignon ($14.95), a filet mignon and mushroom filled batata with a tomato and dijon cream sauce. The sauce was tangy and full-bodied, complementing the richness of the mushrooms and steak, but I did find the steak a little tough. 

My favorite so far has been the chicken and Brazilian cream cheese ($10.95) which is shredded chicken breast and cream cheese in a white wine sauce that's a little reminiscent of a chicken pot pie. Considering the richness of the ingredients, it's surprisingly light and the sauce was creamy, comforting, and perfectly seasoned. I've thought about it at least once a week since having it. 

The ratio of potato and filling in the batata is well-balanced and the filling acts almost like a seasoning for the potatoes instead of being the main focus of the dish. They're filling without being overwhelming or making you feel like you just swallowed a brick. The majority of the varieties do contain some kind of meat or seafood, but there are a couple of vegetarian options - the spinach and cream and the sun-dried tomato - and all of the batata suicas are gluten-free.  

All in All
Cafe Batata is bringing something new to Jersey City with their excellent batata suicas. The food is really good and it's nice to see something casual, delicious, and well-executed. Beyond their main dishes, they have a nice variety of Brazilian sides and snacks including some desserts and nothing is priced too prohibitively. Service is very friendly and they do take-out and delivery but also have plenty of seating space and they're open from 10am-9pm Sunday through Thursday and 10am-11pm on Friday & Saturday.

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