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Sep 19, 2008 08:24 AM

Cuba in CH, disappointing.

Went to Cuba last night in Chestnut Hill and it was an expensive disappointment. With tip at about 20% it was $60 for two. Having eaten a bit of Cuban food in Florida over the years I was disappointed with the lack of exciting flavor. You don't have to be a chef to make better Cuban food at home than this place.

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  1. This is disappointing indeed. I had given up on Cuba after two visits. However, I just read a review in the Chestnut Hill local saying they had a new, professional chef and that things have greatly improved since July. Based on your review, i guess not.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JanR

      You can't really go by the reviews in the CH Local...Len Lear claims to like every thing he's ever eaten. He's more a publicist than an critic.

      1. re: hungry100

        That's too funny! I needed a chuckle tonight.

        1. re: crazyspice

          I heard LaBan has a review of Cuba in next Sunday's paper... I am curious...

          1. re: AmblerGirl

            Yes, that will be interesting indeed. All I can say is that I have been to Cuba in CH once and once is enough. We recently spent a week in Miami Beach and were in the envious position of having to choose, from among a myriad, which Latin restaurants we wanted to eat at. We ate at a Cuban restaurant (Sazon) twice and it was sublime. So far beyond anything I've had in this area (even Tierra Colombiana) and likely ever will. We then moved onto Colombian, Argentinian, and was fun needless to say.

    2. In spite of all the bad reviews, we werte in C-Hill today and decided to give Cuba a try for brunch. Maybe my expectations were low, but it was pretty good. The dining room was really nicely decorated. I had plantain pancakes with mango butter. They had a really nice flavor and texture, but it was just two pancakes on a plate with a very small smear of butter. A little something more would have been nice, a few pieces or sliced fruit or something. My husband had cuban style eggs benedict with a smoked paprika sauce that was really tasty. We also got as side of potatos and onions. They lowered the prices recently, so our whole bill came to only $16, so I felt satisfied given what we paid. My only minor complaint was service, I think there was only one waitress on duty and while she was nice, she was a bit absent. We waited fairly long for our check and were initially overcharged. No big deal, that type of thing happens all the time. What was odd was that the waitress treated me like I was wrong for bringing it up (or I was incorrect in the price, which I was not, I checked on the way out). She said she'd bring it to her manager's attention to see what he said. Odd. Anyway, the manager corrected it, came over, and apologized, which is fine. No biggie, just the reaction was strange.

      Anyway, I think I am going to take the risk and try it for dinner. I'll just bring alot of wine and keep my expectations low :)

      4 Replies
      1. re: AmblerGirl

        With these reviews and LaBan's recent 1 bell and you're still gonna go for dinner? Well, you HAVE been warned!

        1. re: Schpsychman

          I hear ya. I am just desperate to find a good spot in C-Hill since Cafe Barcelona closed. Brunch was decent, and I heard they got a new chef and lowered prices, so I'll give them one chance.

            1. re: crazyspice

              I actually had a very nice dining experience there as well. I posted my review a few weeks ago. Here is what I said:

              Cuba in Chestnut Hill - very good!
              I must say I was reluctant at first to go to Cuba after hearing all the reviews but after some of my Cuban relatives went and raved about it I decided to give it a try. We were up in CH today for the Fall Arts Festival (note: really fun I highly recommend it) and after it was over my mother (she's the Cuban one) happened to mention that she just happened to have some rum in her trunk and that we should go to Cuba for some drinks and snacks. A coincidence? I think not!

              So we go and I am not all that hungry having eaten some tasty festival food (funnel cake and Kettle Korn) but the four of us agree on 2 mojitos, an order of empanadas and the Ropa Vieja. We are seated outside on their new deck at our request (today was such a beautiful day!) and we are immediately given bread and butter. The rolls are pillow soft and light, the butter creamy and delicate. I do appreciate nice bread and butter. The waiter then takes our bottle of rum and returns with the mojitos. I have had a few mojitos in my life and these were some of the best. Very minty, which I like, not overly sweet and clearly made with a simple syrup not granulated sugar so the texture was not grainy. Very good!

              The food arrives in a fairly short order and we partake. First, the empanadas...delicious!! The pastry crust was flakey and flavorful the chicken filling tender and juicy without making the crust soggy. They were served with a delicate sour cream based sauce flavored with orange juice and lime zest (yes, I asked...I ask a lot of questions). We annihilated them. Even my husband who is at best a finicky eater raved about them. Once we had the chicken empanadas we decided we had to try the vegetable ones, so we ordered those. Wow! The filling was a wonderful mixture of spinach, raisins, and other vegetable goodness. The raisins gave them just a hint of sweetness.

              Now, the ropa vieja...I am very particular about my ropa vieja. I have very fond memories of my grandfather making this. For me the texture of the meat has to be that perfect combination of stringy YET tender. The sauce tangy, zesty and ever so slightly sweet, the vegetables cooked but not mushy. The meat has to cook for a long time yet the overall taste of the dish needs to remain vibrant. This is not an easy task but I am happy to say that they pulled it off!! The dish arrived, hot and on a bed of short grain rice, a slight dusting of orange zest and cilantro giving it a charge of freshness and zing. After my first bite I wished my Abuelo were alive to taste this. We were also served a dish of black beans, also very good, the flavor mellow, the texture of the beans just right. Well, after the four of us (my mother, sister, husband and I) polished off the first order we ordered another (remember we walked in not really hungry) the flavor was just so good we wanted more.

              The service was excellent! Our waiter was extremely patient with me and very knowledgeable about the food. He was happy to take his time with us and go into detail about the ingredients. We took our time outside on the deck. At no time did we feel rushed. It was such a pleasant dining experience. The combination of great service, a masterfully made drink and wonderful food was something I haven't encountered in a long time. I should also mention that the ladies' room was clean, fresh and fully stocked (I always comment on the bathrooms, they are an important part of the overall restaurant experience). So, in conclusion I like the restaurant and I will be back. We didn’t order a wide variety of dishes but I can recommend without hesitation the ones I mentioned.

      2. I'll add my "pretty decent" review. I had the calamari appetizer. A bit on the bland side, but otherwise very good. A hint of salt and a little habanero sauce complemented the dish wonderfully. Then the flank steak. This was done very nicely. Rum raisin ice cream very good. Mojitos mixed with my bring your own vodka were also good. A good meal in the neighborhood. Service was polite and pleasant. A nice meal out in the 'hood. I will try it again.