Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spanish & Cuban

Due to the lack of Spanish and Cuban food on the island, I decided to combine them as one posting. Spanish and Cuban food is very different with the sauce components and flavor profiles, but the main ingredients remain the same of fresh fish, potatoes and vegetables. The one and only Spanish restaurant in Alameda is Barceluna. Within a three minute walk you can go over to the only Cuban restaurant in town called Havana.

Barceluna is both old and new to Alameda. The previous location was at the old Alameda Theatre before the the movie house was in operation. The restaurant was forced to close and now it has relocated to Santa Clara Avenue at the old Luciano's space. The food is geared towards Spanish tapas, or small plates. Pizza was also on the menu. I really wanted to come to this restaurant for the pizzas, but when I looked over at the next table and looked at their pizza, it did not look very appealing. The ingredients were fresh, but the middle appeared soggy. Plus, the neighbor stated the tapas were better in taste than the pizza which then prompted me to order a pizza another time. The Tuna Luna tapa was fresh ahi tuna with tofu, cucumber and avocado chunks mixed in a spicy sauce. The presentation was nice in a martini glass and with a giant tortilla chip. The flavors, however were a miss. There wasn't enough tuna for my liking and the dish was mainly filling. The tofu did not add any flavor and at times looked like avocado to me. The ahi was over cooked and other ingredients masked the natural taste of the tuna. The mushrooms tapa was decent. The dish was cooked mushrooms with a nice smokey flavor. The skirt steak on top of a crostini tapa sounded great on the menu, but it was a bit difficult to eat. The steak was a bit chewy and slightly tough and did not tear easily once you bit into the meat. The flavor of the beef was good, but I wish the meat was more tender. The pomme frites was yummy. The garlic fries was large in portion with a good texture. They were crunchy and hot served with a mayonnaise and ketchup dipping sauce. The dessert menu is very minimal. The only dessert worth tasting is their deep fried dessert.

By the way, I have returned to Barceluna for the pizza. I ordered pepperoni pizza. The pizza was good, not great, but I would not order pizza again from this place. Stick to the tapas!

Havana is the new Cuban restaurant on the block. The space is brightly colored with great, large pictures of the actual city throughout the restaurant. The food has a lot of tropical flavors in the sauces. The plantains were prepared a few different ways and I had some issues with the texture. The first time I ate the deep fried plantains, the texture was fibrous and difficult to eat. When they shred it like french fries than the plantain tasted really good. The seafood dishes were wonderful and full of flavor. Their version of paella was too mushy and wet and needed more crunch from the rice. The shredded beef was too large of a portion for just one person and the meat was a bit dry. The crab cakes were small and tasty with a mango sauce. The flan was a great dessert to end the meal. Be sure to order a mojito since their selection is huge. I would come back for drinks and appetizers. Dining in this restaurant is comfortable and pleasant plus, the Cuban music is great because it makes you want to dance in your seat.

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