Sonido, Fitzroy

Sonido is a South American restaurant on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, easily accessible by tram 86/96 and a short walk from the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum. I was going to an event at the REB and stumbled across this restaurant closeby, and was really impressed and happy with my experience here.

From the moment you step into Sonido, you feel like you're in South America; the whole place feels really authentic, from the upbeat latina music playing in the background to the decorations on the walls. The whole restaurant has a very vibrant feel, reflected in the choice of colours on the walls and the decor of plants sitting in shelves on the walls. The staff were very friendly, and the overall service was good.

The main dish served at Sonido is the arepa, which is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or the like, used particularly in Colombia and Venezuela. With that as the base, you then decide what type of topping/flavours you'd like on your arepa. It almost feels like a deconstructed burrito, except the flatbread is a lot thicker than a tortilla, and it's a bit harder to roll it all up to eat as the flatbread breaks quite easily.

The arepas we went with were the chorizo and chicken ones ($13 each), and my friend and I also got a sweet corn one ($6) to share. Drinks wise, we ordered a guava juice ($6) and an ice aguapanela ($5). The aguapanela is a traditional sugarcane elixir drink, and is served with lime juice. The drink was really refreshing and the sweet and sour flavours balanced each other well. The guava juice wasn't as sweet as expected; it was more of a natural flavour, and it too was really refreshing and went well with the rest of the meal. However, it did get a bit foamy by the end. Each of the arepas in the main meal section is served with guacamole and picadillo (fresh salad like salsa), and each table also comes with its own little variety of sauces depending on how spicy you want your dish to be.

The chorizo arepa was very flavoursome, and with the guacamole and picadillo, made for a very enjoyable dish. The chorizo was a bit tough to cut into and a little on the salty side, but otherwise delicious. The picadillo was a little more sour/acidic than most of the salsas that I'm used to having, though it balanced out the heavier flavours of the chorizo well. At first, I wasn't quite sure how the arepa was supposed to be eaten, and tried to roll it up together as if I was eating a burrito. However, this soon proved to be a bit of a challenge as the arepa would break quite easily, and I ended up just cutting it up into smaller pieces to have a bite with chorizo and the guac and salsa.

The grilled chicken arepa was also really delicious, in particular the chicken was extremely soft and juicy, and just melted in your mouth. It too went really well with the guac and picadillo, and the flavours all combined really well together. Portion wise, it was just right, as it made you full, but not to the point of being bloated.

In contrast to the savoury areaps, the sweet corn arepa was as the name suggests, sweet. The portion is about half the size of the main arepa, with a really lovely but not overpowering sweet flavour. You could still taste the texture of the corn in the dish, and this dish balanced out the savoury ones well when the flavours became a bit too heavy sometimes. The dish supposedly had a cheesy element to it, though we couldn't really taste it.

I had a really great experience here at Sonido, and would definitely recommend it for a great South American food experience. Worth a try if you're in the area or craving some Columbian style food!

Ambience: 9/10
Service: 8.5/10
Food: 8.5/10
Price: $$


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