Cuba Libre: A Taste of Cuba in Washington, DC
What to Eat: The summer menu showcases a wide variety of dishes that included breaded, fried and pasta dishes. To start, a wide array of appetizers were sampled for everyone to try. The first being a very simple appetizer, the Canapé a chipotle-chicken thigh that was extremely tender and moist that was accented with the cool flavors of watermelon and the spicy flavors of a North African harissa paste. Cuba Libre also features a variety of soups and there most popular soup is the seafood soup that consists of shrimp and crab meat with a coconut milk base. Black bean soup with a sour cream emulsion is also featured which can be found to be a bit too salty. A novel soup they added on their menu is the plantain soup. The plantain soup may catch you off guard because of its sweet taste but if you love sweet plantains then you will love this soup.
The Bruschettas De Tostones wasn’t anything novel, but a good appetizer to compliment any meal. Cuba Libre does a great job with their ceviche, featuring fresh raw fish cured with fresh lemons and lime with chili for spice. The Cuba Libre fritters provided a stronger texture versus the earlier smoother textured appetizers. The fritters are a bit saltier compared to the softer flavored appetizers. Everyone who tried the ravioli became a believer.
Cuba Libre first entrée was a Ropa Vieja ravioli with chorizo and fresh clams. At first this may sound like an odd pairing of a pork ravioli with clams, and chef Pernot would agree. However, he promises that if you try the unique combination you also would become a believer. Everyone who tried the ravioli became a believer. The next entrée that was skirt steak and the steak was moist and tender but the amazing texture and flavor of the ravioli still lingered and was hard to forget.
The desserts at Cuba Libra met expectations but did not exceed them by any means. The Key lime tart had a fantastic meringue and pistachio curst but seemed to lack filling. The Banana Bread Caramelo only had a hint of banana. The tres leches was a vanilla sponge cake soaked in three milks and topped with Mocha mousse. The sponge cake was fantastically flavored but the Mocha mousse lacked in the chocolate flavor that you might expect.
What's the Score: Cuba Libre offers diners a culinary passport to Cuba’s intriguing flavors and culture. With a wide range of rums, it is recommended to go with the Cuba Libre home brand and enjoy fresh fruit flavored mojitos. For novelty and unique dining experience start off with some appetizers such as the Canapé, sweet plantain soup or any of the ceviches. For an entrée, it may be out of place being a pasta dish at a Cuban restaurant but the Ropa Vieja raviloi will make you a believer that pork and clams go together. To finish everything off, for dessert get the tres leches. If you have enough energy, grab another signature mojito and stick around for the dancing to start.