Columbia was a must on the list for my visit to Sarasota- especially when this location generates more revenue than the original at Ybor City.
For the lunch fare- the Pollo Riojana ($10.95) and the Roast Pork Loin “A la Cubana” ($10.95) were ordered. It was particularly a good deal because the entrées came with a side order of their Famous 1905 Salad for an additional $3.95. And for libations, their renowned Sangria was available at $4.95 a glass.
Crisp, warm Cuban bread was brought at the beginning of the meal followed by the Sangria.
I’m sure I’m going to cause a stir when I say that their 1905 salad is nothing remarkable. Perhaps in my mind, when I think of a delicious salad, I conjure up images of fresh, crisp greens tossed with generous amounts of other vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Their salad focuses more on the cheese- Swiss and Parmesan. Decent-sized bits of ham dot the lack-luster salad comprised mostly of Iceberg Lettuce and Romaine. Finally, the salad could have done without being drenched in dressing. In hindsight, you can request your server to dress the salad just the way you like it since it’s tossed and presented tableside.
Between the two entrées, the Pollo Riojana was better. For a boneless chicken that’s breaded and fried, topped with a deliciously tangy tomato sauce and Tetilla cheese, it was Y-U-M-M-Y. The side of yellow rice packed a strong note of cumin along with other spices. Cooked with peas and bell peppers, the rice showed the hand of a chef that has made this rice for many, many moons.
IN A NUTSHELL: Columbia seems to have no dearth for a customer base- the place was busy even on a Monday afternoon. If you’re an herbivore, you probably won’t see the hoopla about the 1905 Salad. The Sangrias are good and so are the portion sizes. Unfortunately, the Cuban bread is not in-house (for any of the locations, as a matter of fact). For attentive and keen service, ask for Novi.