Yesterday for lunch we stopped by Arepa & Salsa, a new Venezuelan restaurant on Madison in the old Burly's space.
I first noticed the Arepa's bright-yellow signage and the sweet colorful planters out front about 2 weeks ago. The restaurant opened last Monday.
While I only ate at Burly's once and my knowledge of the space is fuzzy, I did notice the new booths, and there's a back room and a small slice of outdoor seating on the balcony at the back of the building. Most of the parking is in the back, with entry up a flight of steps that puts you mind-bendingly on street level at Madison.
Arepas are a Venezuelan staple, a corn-based pastry made with a variety of fillings.
The UFOs ($4.50) are mini fried cheese arepas.
They very good — the cheese is mild, slightly tangy. (And they look like donuts!) The UFOs are served with a mild, very thin and sour-creamy dipping sauce. We also tried (and preferred) a variation of this sauce is made with an addition of cilantro and is used as a garnish.
One of our party ordered the Venezuelan hamburger ($8.50), which is topped with ham(!). I've never seen this before. Another ordered the Reina Pepiada ($7), an arepa with chicken salad.
The vegetarian options are two: the UFOs and another appetizer that is a variation on the cheese stick. But, the menu clearly states that this is an "opening" menu offering a "small selection" of offerings, so this may change.
It's a great credit to the waitress who figured out on her own that I don't eat meat, and we were then asked to try this dish they were considering adding to the menu. This is a Tostone Cups, a pastry topped with various fillings. This one has eggplant and a nice touch of sweetness from plantains. Very good.