La Abundancia Bakery & Restaurant

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La Abundancia Bakery & Restaurant

I recently aimed the Houndmobile towards Winter Park to check out the former Chef Henry's Cafe, which is now called Chef Hans Cafe -- without an apostrophe and without the Brestowski family that had operated the Eastern European restaurant for many years at a couple of locations. They recently sold the cafe and returned to Eastern Europe.

But despite the Web site's assertion that Chef Hans was open for lunch, it was closed up tight when I arrived. So, I headed back down Howell Branch Road, turned left on Semoran and spotted a little place called La Abundancia. Why not? I thought.

La Abundancia is a little slip of a place on the far corner of a small strip mall. I had been to this very strip mall just before I left the Sentinel. I wrote about a charming little place called Golden Chicken. Ironically, I had stumbled upon Golden Chicken because the place I had intended to dine -- Sazon 436 on the other corner of this same strip mall -- treated me so shabbily that I up and left before I even made it into the dining room. Golden Chicken turned out to be delightful -- and a huge bargain.

La Abundancia is, too.

It's a Colombian restaurant owned by Milder Alzate and Eddy Gonzalez. The menu is on a board on the wall behind the counter, which holds various Latin American baked goods. I wasn't getting a lot of information from the Spanish language menu, so Milder approached and asked if she could offer some help. I asked her what the specialty of the house was, but she misunderstood and told me what the special of the day was -- a plantain soup and a serving of yellow rice and chicken for $7.

I was intrigued by the plantain soup, so I ordered the special.

I couldn't believe how much food I got for seven bucks. The soup was a full bowl, not just a measly cup, and it featured a hearty chicken broth with lots of vegetables and slices of green plantains. The soup could easily have been an entree.

The chicken and rice was also delicious. The yellow rice had lots of chicken meat and a few vegetables, including yummy peas, presented in a molded mound. It had just the right amount of greasiness to add flavor without being, well, greasy.

On the table was a small crock with a pepper sauce. Milder cautioned that it was hot, but the Hound is not afraid of hot.

This stuff was HOT!!! Somehow they found a way to turn fire into a liquid. Hot sauce lovers, you've got to try this one.

There are only a few tables in the place, but there are also a couple outside, though I wouldn't call it patio dining, more like some tables and chairs on the sidewalk. So you might have to be prepared to take the food home with you.

Actually, with the size of the portions, you should at least plan on taking home leftovers.

La Abundancia is at 1555 N. Semoran Boulveard, Winter Park. The phone number is 407-671-0511. Lunch and dinner are served daily. There is no Web site.

Oh, and apparently Chef Hans Cafe is still open. Call first.