Saturday, November 13, 2010

Food Review - Cuba Libre Restaurant

Besides French, Korean, and Vietnamese, B and I also favor Cuban cuisine. Although, it's really hard to find a place that can serve really good Cuban food. For those of your who are not familiar with Cuban cuisine, it's more than just rice and beans. You have a variety of dishes that combine flavors from Spanish and African cooking. Lots of spices and heat, which B loves very much. The last time we had some really good Cuban food was when we were in Miami last year. Imagine our excitement when we heard that Cuba Libre (they have branches in Philly, Orlando, and AC) was opening in DC. Unfortunately, we missed out on the offering of free food during their first week opening. I was even more excited to find out that this place was only a block away from the Convention Center. So after the cooking show, B and I headed to Cuba Libre! Without further ado, let me share with you our gastronomic adventure

What I love about this place is that they have an expansive food and drinks menu. They were also offering their brunch menu for the first time. We lucked out because one of our friends was working that day so he was able to recommend that we should try the different piqueos (just like tapas) on the menu. I thought this was a brilliant idea as we get to try a variety of them without stuffing ourselves too much, but I still think we did. Just let the pictures do the talking.

To your left is the Vieiras Favoritas (Baja bay scallops, blackened tomatillo-truffle sauce, goat cheese confetti) - the scallops were just the right size and seasoned perfectlly and the tomatillo sauce has a little kick to it.
To your right is Guava Mojito virgin (mind you, they have at least 20 different kinds of Mojitos to choose from). Guava reminds me of my childhood in the Philippines. It was clearly one of my favorite fruit. It's like a combination of apple and pear. So to have this was just refreshing and paired perfectly well with the food).

I love the interior of this place. It feels really homey and not too pretentious. It's totally different compare to other restaurants we have been in DC.

Guacamole Cubano. Their take on the traditional guacamole served with plantain chips. I mean look at that presentation! We loved how the guacamole is mixed with pineapple chunks. Nice sweet touch and citrus kick to it!

Albondigas Camaguey. Glazed beef, pork and pine nut meatballs served with pickled carrot cilantro slaw. Another hit from the menu. The meatballs were packed with flavors and the accompaniment of pickled carrot went well with it. The carrot was a little on the spicy side. I usually can't tolerate spicy food but this was just exceptional .

Pulpo con Berenjenas. Truffle and citrust marinated grilled baby octupus with Haitian eggplant salad. I love anything seafood especially squid or octupus and this was done perfectly. The octupos was really tender.

Cesar de Oriente. Crispy spring roll of braised beef short rib served with Shredded romaine with roasted garlic-caesar dressing and cotija cheese. This one was my top favorite. The cotija cheese on the salad tasted similar to feta cheese.

To your top left is Cochinito Chinito Cubano. Dark rum glazed pork belly. Who doesn't love pork belly especially when it's done right that it just melts in your mouth. As what B said, "this taste like heaven!"It was indeed heaven! The group sitting next to our table over heard us talking about it that they wanted to know what we ordered. lol!
To your top right is Carne de Cangrejo. Jumbo lump Maryland crab meat, smoked cheddar cheese, tomatillos and candied peanut salsa. Another hit as well.

The bottom is Torreras (I think it means to toast). French toast coated with toasted walnut and with Frangelico mascaporne cheese. Topped with drunken strawberry. This was also heaven. The mascaporne cheese just explodes the minute you take a bite. Now I have an idea on how to serve my french toast next time.

On the bottom left is Batata con Camarones. Cuban pesto-marinated grilled jumbo shrimp, roasted sweet potato and arugula salad. This was nice and light. Love the pesto on the arugula salad. On the bottom right is Yuca Frita. Cassava Cuban fries with cilantro caper allioli. Crispy on the outside but really tender on the inside. It just melts in your mouth perfectly!

Thanks Xavier for all the food recommendations. We super pigged out. But enjoyed every bite. I hope you did not get so hungry after reading this food post. Thanks for visiting mes amis!

Love the red door at Cuba Libre! Bisous, Contessa

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