Philly Restaurant: Cuba Libre Revisted

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I did a small favor for a friend and she rewarded me with Sunday brunch at a restaurant of my choosing!  You'd think writing a food blog, I'd get to go to brunch left and right. Not true-yet. Of course, the life that I live in my head has me going to brunch at least 3 out of the 4 Sundays in a month.  But until that life is manifested in truth, I appreciate any and every opportunity to eat out period!

Yuca Fries - Crispy and creamy yuca root, a popular Cuban staple. Cilantro-caper allioli - Yuca not as close to a french fry as I would have liked - 2 Tines

First I checked Urbanspoon to see what's new and where people are talking about, which brought to my attention Cafe La Maude in Northern Liberties, then I remembered, I still haven't tried Green Eggs Cafe, but eventually, I think I saw mention of it on twitter, that Cuba Libre had a tapas brunch!

Cuban Pork Fried Rice Napa cabbage kimchi, Spanish chistorras sausage and Berkshire pork belly fried rice and Maduros Fried ripened sweet plantains - I really could have been more than satisfied with just these two dishes.  I asked for a scrambled egg on top of my fried rice instead of a fried egg. Delicious! 4 Tines

It's been nearly a decade since I've been to Cuba Libre, when it first opened 15 years ago, way, way before Tinsel & Tine, and back before the depression of 2008, it was a staple choice, I dined & drank there many times. Used to live for their Mojitos.  But life changes, new restaurants become popular and so on an so forth...
Churrasco Slider- Quarter pound hand chopped skirt steak burger, tomatillo relish, smoked cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. Toasted brioche roll - 3 Tines

I'm happy to say, a revisit to Cuba Libre was the perfect choice - the Tapas Brunch is fun!!! So much on the menu to choose from, 5 sections from which to make selections - DESAYUNO/SOPAS Y ENSALADAS/VEGETAL/CARNE/DEL MAR.

Malanga Fritters  - A traditional Cuban street food of crispy taro, garlic and West Indian culantro. Tamarindo ketchup - Something went horribly wrong here, how can anything with the name fritters be so misleading, the texture inside and out, the salt lick, too much garlic, none of it came together for me - Tarnished
We were told everything was really small, so it seemed more economical to choose the $26 per person unlimited tapas option, rather than choose 5 or 6 dishes to share. However, the tapas items are not small at all. We got full very fast off of 3 dishes each. Of course, that didn't stop me from ordering a few others and wishing I had tried a few more.

Chocolate Waffle - Chunky banana-sun dried cherry vanilla syrup - Be sure to save room for this! loved the dried cherries and some bites are more chocolaty then others which makes for a nice mouth surprise - 3.5 Tines

I've always loved the theatrical atmosphere of Cuba Libre, and back in the day, I don't every remember having poor service, but we happened to have EXCELLENT service at this brunch. Erica was attentive without being annoying, in this type of dining situation, you could have someone hovering all the time wondering if you're done with one dish and ready to order more, or in reverse, not coming back when you're looking to try the next thing. Erica seemed to come just on time. Not to mention, she's also super cute - a cross between Jennifer Garner, Eva Mendez and Natalie Portman. (I should have taken her pic).

Cuban Style Poached Egg Enchilado tomato sauce and goat cheese fondue. Pressed Cuban bread - 3 Tines and Café Cuba Libre Cuban coffee with steamed coconut milk - 3 Tines (a little too sweet)

I also had a chance to talk to the manager Donna. I asked her what, other than the tapas brunch, which started a year and a half ago, was new?  She answered...

  • Chef and restaurateur Guillermo Pernot was permitted a recent trip to Cuba and brought back savory new recipes and colorful photographs of the country, which now adorn the restaurant.
  • Nightlife - Every Friday and Saturday Night starting at 11:30pm the tables and chairs are rolled back to make room for dancing. The DJ has a great perch above the crowd.
  • Celebrity Visitors: Chazz Palminteri was in town recently doing a play and came in 3 nights in a row, couldn't get enough of the mango butter.  Robert De Niro's favorite dish is the Churrasco a la Cubana  Chimichurri marinated grilled skirt steak, roasted garlic boniato-potato mash, parsley, lemon and onion sauce. Watercress and mushroom escabéche salad $26.5 And some blokes named Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood aka The Rolling Stones rolled up into Cuba Libre this summer to celebrate their end of the tour party! A $37,000 celebration!

And if you're looking for something to do on New Year's Eve, Cuba Libre is having a 1920's Carnaval de Havana.

Tinsel & Tine Rating System: * Excellent - 4 Tines / * Great - 3 Tines / * Good - 2 Tines / * Fair - 1 Tine /* Poor - Tarnished

WASHINGTON DC ORLANDO ATLANTIC CITY PHILADELPHIA James Beard Award for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region & Best Single Subject Cookbook Chef Guillermo Pernot Nationally renowned chef and restaurateur Guillermo Pernot is responsible for maintaining the quality, taste and authenticity of Cuba Libre’s cuisine at all locations as the company expands its concept across America. His dinner, lunch and brunch menus envision what Cuba’s cuisine would be like today, if it had continued to flourish beyond the golden era of the 1950s. Pernot’s dishes are full of color, aroma and style. Pernot is credited for introducing Nuevo Latino cuisine to Philadelphia.

Cuba Libre on Foodio54

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar on Urbanspoon

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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