It’s something special when people share a love and interest of experiencing new foods. Since I’m all for meeting new people and creating experiences, I rounded up nine of my friends to assist in finding a new restaurant for dinner. When my table for ten turned into a table for two, Margaret and I decided on Cuba.
We walked through the front door and were greeted by a lively dining room and a big smile. We were seated at our table and I couldn’t help but to look around at what everyone else was eating: the plates looked good and the food smelled great!
We started with cocktails and appetizers. I ordered a Margarita Cubana, made up Baron Platinum Tequila, blood orange purée, pineapple juice, like, sugarcane syrup and tajin salt, and Margaret had an Old Cuban, made with Bacardi 8y Rum, muddled lime, Cointreau, mint leaves and Cava float, garnished with a peeled sugar cane- a pleasant surprise. I was tempted to ask for my own stalk of sugarcane.
For appetizers, we split the chicharon prensado and calamares con tamarindo. The chicharon was a huge chunk of braised pork belly, served over congri, Spanish chorizo, and green peas with a balsamic glaze. Very crispy on the outside, yet so tender on the inside. The calamari was fried and tossed in a tamarind vinaigrette with sweet plantains and cherry tomatoes. The calamari was cooked to perfection and it didn’t get soggy from the vinaigrette, which is always a plus. I’d never thought to put the flavors of the sweet plantain with the slight acidity of the tamarind, it made for an interesting bite.
Margaret and I couldn’t make up our minds on entrees: she was torn between the salmon and the pato con tamarindo (duck) while I was torn between the churrasco and the paella marinera. Margaret went with the salmon, served with coconut rice and shrimp in a lobster sauce, and I made sure to have a taste. The salmon and shrimp were cooked to perfection, and the coconut rice tasted like everything from my super caribbean childhood. I, being the creature of habit that I am, had the churrasco- grilled skirt steak with chimichurri and garlic mashed potatoes. I’ll always find my steak and potatoes. The steak was everything a medium-well steak should be. It was juicy and tender with that charred taste I love so much, and the addition of the chimichurri was like a flavor kick in the mouth.
Since every meal should come with a side of fries, the closest we could get at Cuba was n order of yuquita fritas: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and served with a cilantro dipping sauce. So good!
As we were finishing our mouth-watering entrees, I got the strangest craving for chocolate. The molten chocolate cake jumped out at us. Served with homemade vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit, the chocolate cake was perfectly gooey and I wasn’t overwhelmed by chocolate.
Not only does Cuba have amazing food, but the atmosphere definitely adds to the experience: you really can’t beat live music and a cigar roller on the premises. I came home raving about it– so much the Chéo suggested we go the next time he comes to NYC. Just like other restaurants in Greenwich Village, it’s a tight space with limited seating, so reservations are definitely recommended. I can’t wait to go back–anyone down for brunch?
222 Thopmson Street
New York, NY