Monday, August 20, 2012

Cabana El Ray

Photography by Fitz
"Nuevo-Latino"? We just couldn't resist. We were in southern Florida. How could we pass up a chance at some Latin/Caribbean yumminess? Cabana is a small chain with locations in New York, West Palm Beach, and Delray Beach. I only had two gripes. One was that you can only get their sandwiches at lunchtime (no Cuban for me!). The other was that our service was slowwwwwwww. And it wasn't that way for everybody. It was our server. We saw other parties come in after us and leave well before we did. I'm all for taking your time and enjoying a good meal. But two hours and 15 minutes is too long to sit, especially when you're stuck in a corner near some wanna-be cougar on a dinner date, carrying on loudly about swingers' nude beaches and how her 67-year-old mother has "chunked out".

First things first: the Mariquitas are to die for. They're an awesome twist on chips and salsa. The chips are made from thinly sliced plantains and served with garlic mojo and avocado salsa (aka guacamole). Tami and I are both guacamole freaks, and this particular guac was almost as good as the stuff we had in Mexico. The chips were great. Who doesn't love crispy fried plantains? Total win on appetizers. After wrestling with the idea of ordering fish (this would have been the place to get Chilean sea bass!), I settled on the Parrillada. It was a mixed grill platter with grilled chicken breast, churrasco, longaniza sausage, morcilla, and Spanish chorizo. Do the math: that's one chicken breast, a skirt steak, and three sausages. It was a platter made for meatheads like me. Tami kept commenting on how gross my pig's blood sauage looked, but it was pretty tasty. The chicken was a little bland and slightly tough. But the skirt steak was wonderful, and the chorizo was out of this world. Didn't Meat Loaf say that four out of five ain't bad? He didn't? Oh well. It needs to be noted that the rice and beans were probably the best rice and beans I've ever had. Talk about elevated! Tami ordered Chuletas de Cerdo - garlic marinated center cut pork chops. She thought they were alright but perhaps a little "one note" in flavor. She ordered a side of yuca fries, which she thought tasted great but were impossible to finish due to heavy starchiness. Dessert was insanely good. We both ordered banana zepoles with banana ice cream and fresh bananas. They were, uh, bananas. 

Let's go to the FABS scale:
Food- Overall, really good nuevo Latin fare. We'd go back. 21/25
Atmosphere- Definitely a chic, classy looking place that seems perfect for a beach town in southern Florida. 21/25
Beer- A so-so selection of bottled mediocrities. Eh. 12/25
Service- Two hours and fifteen minutes? At least they could have shown us a movie. 14/25

Total: 68 (out of 100)

I know- that score seems unreasonably low. Perhaps it's a flaw in the scale. Like I said, we'd go back.


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