Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Flan Club
Name: The Flan Club
Location: 58 Henry St., Binghamton, NY 13901
Phone: (607) 205-8672
Price: $10-$15 per person
Edit: The Flan Club is CLOSED as of November 2010. It will be missed. I will keep this review up to preserve its legacy.
I had the pleasure of paying my inaugural visit to The Flan Club today for lunch. For those not in the know, The Flan Club is located on the corner of Chenango St. and Henry St. in downtown Binghamton, near the bus terminal. My understanding is that several small restaurants have tried their hand at this location over the years, most recently Amera's Cup O' Soup. My hope is that The Flan Club becomes a Binghamton fixture. They serve great Caribbean cuisine at reasonable prices. Of all of my recent ventures downtown for lunch, today's visit to The Flan Club was by far the most satisfying. I will be returning often.
Upon entrance you'll first notice that The Flan Club is downright tiny in size. There are only four tables in the restaurant. The atmosphere is charming enough with local artwork on the walls and colorful placemats adorning each table. It's kind of like eating in someone's dining room in a sense. When I first got there, the waitress was the only one working in the entire place. She was a very friendly older lady who served as hostess, waitress, and cook all in one. This meant that the service was a bit on the slow side. Oh no, not again. We don't want another debacle like yesterday's at the Blind Tiger Pub...
But let me explain. There's a difference between slow service and no service. Yesterday at the Blind Tiger, there were exceedingly long stretches of time where we did not even see the waitress, including a 35 minute period of no service after we had finished eating. Her idea of service was yelling across the place if we wanted our check, which I quite frankly found offensive. Today's experience at the Flan Club was the polar opposite. Though the service was slow, the waitress gave me regular updates to let me know my dish was being prepared and that she had not forgotten about me. Hence, I didn't mind waiting. Plus, as fate would have it, the wait was totally worth it. I will also note that another younger waitress/cook who I believe is the owner of the restaurant came in a little bit later toward the end of my meal and the service picked up dramatically at that point.
I started my meal with a cup of coffee. I was not expecting greatness, but sure enough, this was the best cup of coffee I've had in a Binghamton restaurant. Very strong and robust, I was thoroughly impressed. This certainly was no Folgers or Maxwell House. It's been an hour since I finished my meal and I can still taste the coffee. Nice.
For my main course I elected to go with the seasoned pork (pernil) with yellow rice (arroz con gandules) and crunchy plantains (tostones). For their lunch special you get your choice of entree and two sides for just $7.99, a very good deal given the amount of food you get. The waitress brought some plantain chips to munch on while I waited for my entree, which were tasty.
My food came out and I was immediately impressed with my plate of food. I wasn't expecting to be impressed with the presentation of the dish but it was certainly appetizing to look at. I was even happier with the taste. The pork was tender to the point where it pretty much melted in my mouth. It was very well seasoned and downright delicious. The rice and plantains were also very good and went well with the pork. This was an excellent plate of food, extremely well-prepared and certainly worth the wait.
It wouldn't be a visit to The Flan Club without sampling their namesake dessert. I ordered a slice of cheese flan. Now, I have not traditionally been a big aficionado of flan. Something about the consistency has never quite sat right with me. Is it pudding? Is it pie? Is it quiche? I reckon it's somewhere in between. Whatever the reason, I have not traditionally been a flan fan. But I was pleasantly surprised with today's offering. Nice flavor, kind of like a cheese danish with some syrupy sweetness. Call me converted. I'll gladly sample another slice on my next visit.
Another cup of delicious coffee later and I was ready to head out, though slightly rueful that I couldn't stick around and eat their entire menu. Gotta leave something for another day, I suppose!
(One note: be sure to bring cash...they do not accept credit cards at this time.)
The Flan Club has great authentic Latino cuisine at a good price in a comfortable atmosphere. It's clear that the staff cares about their patrons and about the presentation and the quality of the food they serve. This is one of the best restaurants in Binghamton.