Monday, September 13, 2010

A Cuban Adventure

Alas, it has been too long since our last posts, but believe me we have been trying to find something to write home about. My co-conspirator, Danielle, informed me last Wednesday of the new tapas restaurant that has opened on Market Street and it sounded exciting. Danielle brought over a menu that same evening and we pored over the delicious sounding selections. It had been decided that we would invite our friends and venture down to Habana Blues on Saturday.

It was a pleasant stroll down the street to this new-found Cuban restaurant and we were greeted by lovely staff members. The menu had promising choices and we all ordered an array of different tapas. I ordered a somallilo and the sesame tuna as a starter for Danielle and me. The tuna was well-cooked with a cool pink center and the plate offered pickled ginger and mandarin oranges to clean our palates and small swirls of garlic mayonnaise. The only suggestion I would offer is either more sauce or a sauce more based in soy.

Danielle and I both ordered the somallilo, which was a beautifully cooked, large beef medallion topped with blue cheese atop mashed potatoes and finished with a red wine reduction. The meat was cooked to a tender medium, the salty yet creamy blue cheese crumbles complemented this juicy meat. The potatoes made everything familiar and rich alongside the drizzle of wine reduction. I certainly could have eaten more of this delectable dish!

Unfortunately, my fellow diners were not so thrilled with their selections. My husband, Shane, ordered the Cubano sandwich that comes on Cuban bread, roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese, and mustard all pressed like a panini. When I tasted it, I thought it was quite good, but Shane later reported that there was a large piece of gristle and it lost flavor over the course of his meal. His "bocadito" (small sandwich) came with sweet potato fries and a smoked honey dipping sauce. I am personally no fan of sweet potatoes but I found these fries crisp and fluffy with no greasiness, however the smoked honey dipping sauce was not as pleasant. Our friend Liz enjoyed her guacamole and plantain chips only to be greeted later by a pitiful piece of chicken on a skewer that would not let go. While she reported her chicken tasted good, most of it stuck to the skewer and for one piece of chicken with the price tag of $7.50 it was just not worth the effort.

Both Shane and Liz had some wonderful mojitos that had a great sweetness from the mint and tartness from the lime and our friend Josh had some beautiful fluffy chicken empanadas. We did finish the evening with churros that came with a chocolate ganache. I felt that we waited longer than necessary for this (albeit there was a large party they were entertaining that evening in the front dining room) but the churros tasted warm and sugary and chocolate is always nice, but for $4.50 for five 3 inch churros I could have made them at home.

I would say that the food and drink tasted great and was only met with a disappointingly high price tag and not much food to even share with one another. The service was a bit slow since there was a large party in the front dining room and we could tell our waitstaff was inexperienced with there being long waits, uncleared dishes, and unrefilled drinks. I also lament that I must also report we had to eat some snacks later as many of us were still hungry. I still have high hopes for this place as I do love tapas and downtown New Albany needs cultural fusion such as this. I just hope the prices or quantities become more reasonable.

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