21 April 2008

Cuba Cafe, 200 Eighth Ave (between 20th and 21st St.)

To celebrate the successful (?) launch of uRadiate, the website startup that Dave has been working so hard on, we found it nothing short of appropriate to go out for a dinner in Chelsea.

We found Cuba Cafe with it's wild, upbeat Spanish music pouring out onto 8th Ave with the front windows open and patrons munching on plantains, sharing empanadas and casually sipping mojitos. We spoke with the waiter and decided to wait an additional 30 minutes to snag a window seat, as it's been one of the first real spring days in New York, and who doesn't love eating (semi) outside?

Unbeknownst to us - that was the only good decision we made that night.

Upon perusing the menu, my order choice was made easily - Atun, the seared yellowfin tuna, marinated with guava, soy sauce and rum, served with a side of chorizo mashed potatoes. This dish alone is what made Cuba Cafe into the runnings for where to go out to eat, but was also half responsible for Cuba Cafe's demise. Dave ordered the marinated grilled pork tenderloin laced with rioja demi and garlic mojo served with onions and tostones. We also got the chorizo appetizer, and a coconut mojito.

The coconut mojito was AWESOME - really sweet, coconut-y, not very rum-y but hey, who's counting - it tastes good. The chorizo arrived soon thereafter and was okay - MUCH better than the sausage we got at Bone Lick - it had a good flavor but wasn't as spicy and crazy as the menu had depicted.

Our meals arrived, and looked incredible. I took the first bite of my tuna, and it was AWESOME - I felt like I was eating a pile of salt on my plate, sprinkled with tuna. (You all know that I love salt, to an unhealthy degree.) By the second bite, I could feel my arteries closing with every molecule of NaCl that hit my mouth. By the third bite, I was wondering if it would be worth my while to run to the bathroom and wash the tuna off from all of the salt it was doused in. Dave expressed this sentiment perfectly when he said, ". . . even chinese restaurants dont pour soysauce on everything."

I guess soy sauce isn't really Cuban, but it sounded really good, right? The chorizo infused mashed potatoes, on the same token were way over-salted, but very very tasty.

Dave's porkchops were equally terrible, but for different reasons. Dave described it perfectly when he said that ". . . it tasted as though the pork chops had been shipped, defrosted, were refrozen and then sat out on the counter for the night before they were cooked and plated." The sauce on them was tasteless and terrible - the only good part about his dish was the rice and beans, which I don't even like - but I had to eat SOMETHING to wash the salt out of my mouth.

We became increasingly dissatisfied as the meal progressed, and at the end just wanted to get the hell out of there. The music was now too loud, our server was nowhere to be found, the people next to us were obnoxious, and there was no more booze. We got the tab, only to find that they charged EXTRA for the coconut in the mojito (not designated on the menu). Way to pinch pennies, seriously. If anything, you're SAVING money by putting less alcohol (or a less potent alcohol) in. Nice.

Cuba Cafe, maybe you should change your menu entries to the following:

Chorizo 8.95
Mediocre Sausage sautéed with tastlessness and the worst vegetable ever

Atun 21.95
Pan seared yellowfin tuna, infused with salt, NaCl, das salz, le sel & de sal.

Chuletas 18.95
3 days old-style pork chops covered in weaksauce with a side of disgusting and terrible

Cuba Cafe gets a .5 fork rating:

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