My cousin Butchie welcomed us to New York by taking us to his favorite Cuban Restaurant in Soho, called Cubana Cafe. It's this hole in the wall restaurant that only seats about 25 to 30 people at a time. Very intimate and homey due to the fact the tables are set quite close to one another.
The place gets very packed and the waiting line is quite long. Fortunately we came just in time, right before the dinner crowd arrived, so we didn't wait too long for a table. While waiting, we ordered red wine Sangria. Which was so delicious and fruity. Don't be fooled by it's mild taste, that thing packs a punch and it gave me quite a buzz. Which was exactly what I needed after such a long and tiring plane ride from Manila.
Finally a table is available. When you dine at Cubana Cafe, the bread comes complimentary and the green condiment that goes with it is to die for! It's so creamy, yet tangy at the same time. I'm not sure what it is made of, we were guessing it has avocados and cilantro in it. If you want it a bit spicy, the home made salsa compliments it very well.
For starters, we ordered the Chicken Quesadilla with Avocados, Tomatoes and Chipotle Salsa. The Quesadilla is served with a side of chickpea salad. This is a fantastic dish to start the evening. The serving was quite generous. The dish is light yet full bodied, if that makes any sense at all. The green sauce goes great with it too.
Butchie ordered the Filet of Roasted Red Snapper with Chunky Mango and Tomato Salsa. I am totally copying this dish. I make some variations of this at home but combining the mango and the spicy salsa creatss the perfect balance of fire and sweetness. The dish also comes with a side of Sweet Plantain Puree, which sounds like baby food, but it's really not. It's mashed plantain bananas instead of mashed potatoes. This was so good, a bit sweet yet has some saltiness and creaminess to it as well.
As for me, I ordered the Stuffed Poblano Chile with shrimp and calamari and topped with cotilla cheese and chipotle mayonnaise. This was a great dish as well. Quite rich. I think the recipe would be best using chicken. I may try to do something similar back home, if I ever find the time to cook again, he he he. The dish is served with a side of rice and beans. Rice and beans... hmmm quite the carbo load. Had to give my rice to Butchie, the beans were good and a bit spicy but I was too full to finish it.
Hubby had the Palomilla, pounded sirloin marinated in garlic and lime, served with caramelized onions on top. The came with a side of rice and beans. The steak was a bit dry but would have been great if it was cooked medium rare, according to hubby. He finished it anyway (except for the beans), so I guess it wasn't that bad.
I wanted to have dessert after but after eating copious amount of Cuban food, I could not find the space to put any more food in my mouth. The Ice Cream Monster on the other hand, couldn't resist having some soft serve ice cream from an ice cream truck parked on the street. Double ice cream in a single cone. Hubby was a happy camper.
We wanted to explore some more but the long sleepless 24 hour travel time from Manila took it's toll on us. Hubby is happily snoring as I write this.
Me, I'm still to excited to sleep. I think I'm gonna look out our window and take in the sights on New York City at night.
Thank you Butchie for a fabulous first night in New York City :-)