I’d like to start this review by saying how much I love our local Mexican restaurant, The Taste of Mexico. It offers some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever sampled, and I eat there whenever possible. So I was pretty excited when I heard that the minds behind my favorite Mexican eatery were expanding into Cuban cuisine, with A Little Taste of Cuba.
My excitement was at an all-time high when I approached the restaurant’s humble facade and found myself greeted by a Native American chief statue, catchy Cuban music, and an unfamiliar aroma. The atmosphere of this small, quaint establishment was incredibly inviting. I felt at home.
Inside, the walls were covered with Cuban art. When I saw how smoky the room was I became a bit worried about the kitchen’s ventilation system, but I assumed it was just a burnt chicken or something and they’d figure it out in no time. As for the food, everything was offered in these cool little wooden boxes, which I got to keep for my very own. Definite consumer plus! They’re also decorated with pictures of cigars, which was a great ethnic touch.
However, there was one downside: limited offerings. The Taste of Mexico has a pretty diverse selection, so I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect the same from its Cuban counterpart…I’m a pretty open-minded guy, though. Perhaps I’m just not adjusted to the restaurant’s style yet. The only thing on the menu seemed to be an oblong, cylindrical object. Some kind of smoky churro? I asked for some samples and was provided with a couple of these things and a lighter. “Cool!” I thought. “It’s like one of those drinks you light on fire.”
I lit one, then furtively peeked around to see how people were consuming this Cuban delicacy. The cool, empty-eyed, bearded patrons were eating them from the non-lit end. “That makes sense,” I thought. I bit in.
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the taste. There’s a fascinating crunch, to say the least. Also, some funky bitterness, but it got easier to force down as I got used to it. Overall, the dish was…interesting. I started coughing a lot, which made some of the fellow diners chuckle, but I powered through. There were some notes of chocolate, like chocolate that’s congealed on the bottom of your shoe, which was refreshing. These chefs definitely know how to spice things up and throw a curveball! The finishing touch was the end, which had turned into a pretty gray powder after being lit on fire. I think it was some kind of Cuban sprinkles. My opinion: gritty. But definitely better than the weird papery texture around the outside of the churro, so really the dish just improved as I kept going. You sure as heck can’t say that about a lot of meals.
All in all, my own “little taste of Cuba” was delightful. Though I left in an ambulance, I definitely left ready for more.