The air of festivity at Cuba is immediate and suddenly Old Havana is new again. Beatriz de Armas and Executive Chef Mario Garcia have worked together intimately to bring a familial atmosphere to their dining guests with live Cuban music and authentic cuisine--there's even a hand-rolling cigar maker in residence proffering Cuban-style cigars. So stop by and give the hoppin' joint a whirl as the friendly folk celebrate their ten-year anniversary!
We didn't slide into the subterranean Hemingway Hideaway first for a few drinks--instead we staved off the heat in the cool dining room proper and started out with a few refreshing high-octane cocktails as we perused the straight-up menu laced with a more than a few creative, culinary creations...
The Quick Bites:
We went cuckoo for the Coconut Mojito; a most generous pour to say the least, topped with the shredded stuff
En Su Punto; a fiery fusion of jalapeno-infused gin with sprightly English cucumber and mint, muddled in lime juice and simple syrup
Cangrejito; translates to wonderful, perfectly pan-seared soft shell crab, perched on a beautiful mold of creamy avocado, cherry tomato, and sliced mango with a drizzled tamarind glaze
Chicharron Prensado; first off, there's braised pork belly with congri (traditional rice and beans combo), spicy Spanish chorizo, and smattering of greens peas flirting with a balsamic glaze
Tostones Rellenos; seemed requisite to us--green plantains wrapped around little nibbly shrimp and tingly sofrito sauce
Salmon; a perfectly pink shade of finely seared salmon filet freckled with micro cilantro and sumptuous coconut rice on the side with shrimp and lobster sauce (I suspected a hint of lemongrass) that forwarded the flavor of the fish--my favorite! I asked for a side of super, soupy black beans to accompany this
Filet de Pargo; green plantain-encrusted red snapper served with avocado, a mash of sweet plantains and a bright sofrito sauce that excellently accented the snapper. Sauteed Peruvian corn that we shared was an ideal dish to go with
Bombom Cubano; the bomb! Such a luscious warm chocolate bombe, with a rich liquid center and an orb of pert strawberry ice cream. Accolades to this confectionary Cuban conclusion!
Until Next Time: classic Ropa Vieja; Pollo Guajira, chicken breast stuffed with sweet plantains, gooey mozzarella, and vegetables in a white wine sauce; guava and cream cheese turnovers with ice cream in a drizzled raspberry sauce.
And celebrate National Rum Day on August 16th by checking out Mixology Week at Cuba, now until August 15th--a week long party featuring a different cocktail every night (courtesy of bartenders Eduardo Tavares and Raul Palacios) leading up to the big day! Click here for more info including a full list of the nightly libations.
Cuba is located at 222 Thompson St, New York, NY 212-420-7878, CubaNYC.com.
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currently the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he writes a weekly restaurant review column which also features Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chef's and bartenders on the island. In 2010 he was published in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. He toiled as web editor for industry leader Interior Design magazine for several years and has also written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, one of the nation’s top drinking schools, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood recently published his first novel, the pale of memory, available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com. He is in the midst of writing a second.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox