This is a continuation of Monday evening’s progressive dinner. After we were disappointed in The Plough’s dinner menu, we walked up 2nd street to Cuba Libre. I have a love/hate relationship with this restaurant. It’s filled with pretty people, pretty chairs, and pretty light. But I am often disappointed in the service and overall nonchalant attitude that fills the air. Since we only wanted drinks and appetizers, we had to sit at the bar, but the happy hour prices were so tempting we caved.
Specialty drinks were $4 and small bites $3. We ordered three small bites and two drinks each.
I do enjoy the open and relaxed nature of the downstairs. The upstairs bar is more night-clubby.
Matt ordered the Grilled Pineapple Mojito (Cuba Libre White Rum, grilled pineapple puree, hierba buena, guarapo, fresh lime juice, with a splash of lemon-lime soda). It was refreshing. It was a mojito.
I ordered the Mango and Ginger Martini (Cuba Libre White Rum, mango puree and guarapo infused with mango and ginger with a candied ginger rim). I am a sucker for ginger anything but I couldn’t taste any ginger in this–just mango. There wasn’t even any candied ginger on the rim like they promised. But it was $4 so I drank it.
Wait, wait, what do I spy? The ginger. On the bottom! You can bet your bottom dollar I scooped all of that gingery goodness out with my finger.
We were served some delicious whipped mango butter to put on our grilled slices of bread:
We enjoyed the Havana Ceviche Misto (chilled cocktail of shrimp, Baja bay scallops and fresh tomato cocktail salsita). The shrimp and mussels were perfectly tender but the tomato cocktail salsita tasted like it came premixed from a can. Matt let me eat the raw coconut shavings on top.
I loved the Papas Rellena (Roasted garlic potato croquette filled with beef picadillo. Sweet and spicy guajillo pepper sauce, crispy onions and Manchego crema). The creamy potato and flavorful beef was moist with just the right amount of Manchego. Oh how I love you, Manchego. Again, though, the sauce was a let down and I wasn’t convinced that it was made from scratch.
The Chicharrones de la Pollo (crisp marinated chicken, fresh jalapeno pepper, spicy mojo picante, crispy plantain) was our favorite and we both saved a bite of this for last. It reminded me of karaage because of the crispy but not doughy fried batter, juicy meat, and slightly sweet taste.
We ordered this as an after-dinner drink. It was pretty disgusting and I had a hard time drinking it: Caballito, the Cuban Manhattan (Cuba Libre Dark Rum, Sweet Vermouth, guarapo, fresh lime juice and a cherry). The alcohol burned, the bartender got ice cubes in both of our glasses, and there was no cherry. I am cringing now just thinking about it.
Let’s just go back to that mango drink. I liked that. Especially the ginger.
Verdict on Cuba Libre: I’d go to the happy hour again because of the tasty food and reasonable prices, but I’d probably just order a beer next time.