- Category: Restaurant Reviews
La Empanada Llama is located on Picotte Drive, next to a strip mall, off of Whitehall Rd. in Albany. The space has only just opened, but features the culinary fare seen most often at the Troy Farmer's Market. The space itself is pretty sparsely furnished. Even the drink case had ten items, when its capacity is easily 7 times that. The decor was 'okay,' decorated with llamas of varying heights, and cloth tables. The problem with cloth tables is actually keeping them clean as they're turned. The empty table we sat at had a few food pieces scattered about.
Since La Empanada Llama is most known for their empanadas, I decided to order an assortment of Beef, Mexican, and Cabbage w/Chorizo with a side of Rice and Beans. Brian ordered the Apanado de Pollo dinner. Now, according to the menu, Brian's dinner comes with "a choice of Rice and Beans or White Rice, and a side of Plantains, French Fries, Mashed Potatoes or Chickpeas with Greens." Based on how the menu read, Brian wanted White Rice and Mashed Potatoes. He was told that it's actually Rice, Potatoes, or Fries, and Plantains or Chickpeas. This is not what the menu says, but we adjusted and ordered Plantains. For dessert, we ordered the Nutella Banan, and Dulce de Leche (without coconut) empanadas. To top it off, we also ordered two Chicha Morada soft drinks.
First and foremost, the service was horrible. Our food came out in parts, one empanada here, two more there, a side dish here. It took at least ten minutes of this before Brian even saw his entree. We weren't told that silverware, which is actually wrapped plasticware, was on the counter behind us. The one person actually at the front of the house was prone to vanishing for long periods of time, on top of having to multi task with the phone, customers walking in, and servicing other tables, which delayed service overall even more. Also, all of our food came in ready-to-go containers.
My savory empanadas were very underwhelming. The actual empanada shell itself was perfection. It had amazing texture and chew, and was cooked flawlessly. The fillings, however, I found to be on the bland side or just not done well at all. The beef empanada, with rice, corn and raisins inside was just bland. I had maybe one wonderful bite out of the entire thing. The Mexican empanada, with guacamole, beef, and refried beans inside had so much refried beans that the main inside texture was just mush. The cabbage and chorizo empanada had spice, but very little flavor outside of that. I was expecting so much flavor, and felt as if the fillings were dulled down instead.
By contrast, Brian's chicken was immensely flavorful. The two chicken breats were marinated so well, flattened, lightly breaded, crispy on the outside and so juicy and tender on the inside. This was the flavor I was searching for with the empanadas. It was hiding in the chicken! That chicken was jam packed with awesome. Likewise, our dessert empanadas were to die for. The dulce de leche was warm, creamy, and sweet. The Nutella had the perfect blend of chocolate to hazlenut flavor with the soft cooked bananas mixed throughout.
If I were to recommend La Empanada Llama, I'd say order take-out. You get the same containers, and better service. I wouldn't order the savory empanadas, because (outside of the shell), there's really no flavor. The perfection of the Apanado de Pollo has me intrigued as to how their other meal entrees would taste, and I would definitely order the dessert empanadas again.
|Apanado de Pollo
Rice & Beans