I shall keep it simple . Each dinner date is now about trying something we have not tasted before , something exotic or we don’t usually get in our ooru. After a day at two libraries , tonight R chose a Cuban restaurant near fifth avenue. The name of the place made me hum a favorite song of mine – as we walked to the place from the Morgan library. The name of the restaurant was #havana . I know if I mention the name of this place , my father would first talk about ‘cigar’ , that’s the imagery he carries . I associate this country with Fidel Castro. Anyways, it was a little past dinner time so we just ordered for the mains directly.
We saw the place was booming with diners, looking at those tables, it was easier to get an idea of the portion sizes.
R ordered for Ropa Vieja . It was cuban styled flank shredded steak in creole sauce. This shredded meat , texture wise was tough but the Creole sauce made it amazing. It was unique in it’s own way. He added, that this gave him a feel of #Haleem .
We could choose any sides with this, among 7-8 options . We chose crispy fried green plantains with this , called #tostones. This was served in a cute manner like one serves fries or a scoop of ice cream. It was accompanied with a garlic sauce.
As he had already chosen a beef dish , I chose to choose – masitas de cerdo. The description said slow cooked chunks of pork. I did not read further and ordered for it. As a ‘bheto’ or ‘rice loving person’ I asked for ‘moro negro’ i.e. rice and black beans mixed.
I realized that the sauce of the dish I ordered was extremely tangy. The chunks of pork were absolutely lean and the entire dish was like rice and pork. A little less tanginess in the sauce could have made my dinner a bit better. Nonetheless, it was a lesson.
We sipped a Corona along with the food and did not order for any wine or cocktail , for this evening.
We were served with another menu to choose our desserts or dessert wine. I chose a dish called #pudindepan.A cuban styled bread pudding soaked in rich egg cream, baked freshly on order and served hot .The person waiting our table , cleared the table, placed the flower and the candle aside while a person from the kitchen directly came with the dish ,warned us that it was extremely hot, placed the bread pudding in front of us and vanished.
The plating was equally attractive with caramel, dulce de leche and micena. I finished this bread pudding and found a similarity between this and the one my grandma used to make at home with lots of ‘kishmish’ or raisins. Though R did not touch the sauces used as embellishment – I finished it all.
The atmosphere was warm and I loved the interior too.
Housed in a two storied building in 38 West in midtown, #nyc , this place carries with them a legacy of 27~28 years. They are in the present address for more than 3 years. The staff was extremely courteous and they knew their subject. Be it wine at the adjacent table, sides to go with my food or the sauces used in the dessert plating, they knew them all.
If you ask me, did I understand everything about Cuban food through these three dishes I had today. Well, the answer is , today was just the beginning, I shall definitely like to try more.