A Little Bit of Cuba Coming Soon in Freehold, NJ!!!
- wench31 Jan 23, 2009 04:09 AM
Yay!!! Something new finally coming to our neighborhood soon! I was driving through Mounts Corner Shopping Center and saw this little restaurant's sign up. It's right next door to Mahzu. I don't know if it's going to be a sitdown place or a take out. Can't wait!
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They were open last night for dinner. I happened by after a long day at work to find them quite busy around 9 pm for same take out. Arroz con pollo and a side of plantains ... very good. I have the menu at home and there are lots of interesting choices. Entrees range from about $15-$22, sandwiches around $8. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we may have a keeper.
I was so happy to see that A Little Bit of Cuba opened, that I ran there for lunch today....it is literally 3 minutes from my house.
I am keeping in mind that this is their 2nd day of operation as I write this post....I tend to be very picky and I know they have kinks to work out.
The space is roomy and attractive. Aqua blue and latte colored walls flanked with Cuban style art work, clean and airy. I did notice a funky smell tho, it could have been something they were cooking, but to me it smelled like a dirty mop....I'm picky, sorry!!!! It wasn't very strong. My husband didn't notice it really, but I have a very sensitive nose.
We seated ourselves. After a few minutes, the waitress brings a plastic basket w/ the white wax paper liner of "fried plantains".....I use quotes here because tho these were definitely fried plantains, they were not made in house. These are the kind that one can buy like potato chips, tho sliced the long way. I prefer the bag kind actually, I love them! Ive been eating them for years....this is how I know these were not made in house but taken from a package. I wanted to ask to make sure I was correct about this, but I didn't want to make them feel badly lol. I'm not saying they were bad, I'm just saying they are NOT sliced and fried on the premises.
The waitress then brought us the menus, which were not a "real" menu but their to go / take out menu...paper, trifolded. Again, not a complaint, just giving the details of my experience. I brought mine home!
We were then asked what we wanted to drink, we asked for iced tea but were told all drinks came from their fridge container filled w/ bottled drinks right by the counter. So, we told the waitress we would go pick something out, as she couldn't tell us every variety that the fridges contained. She told us to let her know what we want, because she will pour it in a glass.
We continued to look at the menu, and decided on the sandwich section of the menu, since we were there for lunch.
We placed our order with the waitress, who did not write anything down, but referred to the menu as we told her what we wanted.
We ordered the beef empanada to share for our appetizer, a Cuban sandwich and the roast pork sandwich.
A number of minutes passed and the waitress returns to ask us if we wanted the beef or chicken empanada, we said beef. I know I heard my companion state beef when he ordered, so of course I rolled my eyes at him after she left with the correction....she did not write our order down, and seemed quite unfamiliar with the menu as we ordered.
The empanada arrived...large, deep fried and flaky on a narrow rectangular plate. She also gave us each the same sized plate for our use. We had no silverware on the table. She seemed to have gotten flustered over this and eventually our silverware arrived, a fork and knife, sloppily rolled up in a napkin. None of the other tables had silverware on them, rolled up in napkins or otherwise.
We tucked into the empanada....it was quite tasty. Deep fried, bubbly looking crust...inside was the beef, not ground beef but a nice pulled looking beef in small chunks/ shreds, peas, peppers, and a green olive. We cut it in half and I was able to pry open my crust to see exactly what was inside. There was only one olive in my half, my husband doesn't like olives so I warned him to look in his half but I got the only olive. I give this empanada a good grade, it was really nice, and I would order it again. I do think that the $8.95 price for this item is a bit over priced. I recently went to a Cuban/ Colombian restaurant in Philly and, although their empanadas were much smaller, they were also around $2 per empanada, actually I think they are $1.50 and equally as yummy!
Our drinks arrived in the midst of all this...and we each told her exactly what bottle of drink we wanted, but what we got was a glass filled w/ ice and part of our bottle of drink poured in and brought to the table. My husband said...where is the rest of our bottle and I told him, I think since the glass was pretty large, that the whole bottle must have been poured into the glasses we had...I was giving them the benefit of the doubt...More on this later!
I had to ask for extra napkins during the eating of the empanada because I don't like greasy fingers, and they arrived swiftly.
Next course, the Cuban and the roast pork sandwiches: We each took half of the sandwiches and shared.
Both sandwiches arrived in the plastic basket, white wax paper deal. It was lunch service, so I cant complain, but I hope their dinner services don't include many plastic baskets.
The sandwiches are on what looks like unseeded Italian bread but flat...I mean the crust doesn't have any of the breaks and openings that Italian bread usually has, this was uniform on the outside. Each sandwich was pressed and or grilled and nicely flattened, very crispy. Thumbs up on that!
I tried the roast pork sandwich first...it was very plain, tho it did have pickle on it. I commented immediately that it needed something. I looked around for a hot sauce, something...I saw nothing. I had one or two more bites of that one and swiftly moved on to the Cuban sandwich.
The Cuban was very good! Very tasty...ham, pickle, Swiss cheese nicely melted, mustard, mayo. It all worked together very well. Both me and my husband ditched the roast pork to finish our Cuban halves....we brought the RP home to add some garlic and Saucy Susan to later on lol.
Back to the drinks...The waitress noticed that my husband's drink was finished and asked if we wanted more. So, he asks, was that my whole bottle and she said no, but I think I gave you the wrong one...there was all this confusion over what drink he had, and his bottle got thrown out, there was this other bottle up there but she doesn't think it was his....all of this could be avoided if she just brought the bottle to the table when we first got our drinks. She asked me if I wanted the rest of my drink and of course I said yes. She brings my bottle to me, and I was astounded that not even half of my bottle was used up and poured into that very large glass w/ all that ice. So, I'm having an issue with how they present and offer their beverages to the customers. For $2.00 a bottle, I got less than half and if there wasn't all that confusion over my husband's drink, I probably wouldn't even have gotten the rest of my bottle. He chose FUZE diet green tea w/ orange and ginger and I chose a 10 calorie per serving Glacieau or Vitamin Water. The bottle he was given was not even a diet drink, but a mango papaya which wasn't even the actual drink he was presented with at the beginning of our meal. I did get the correct beverage, and now have almost a full bottle of it in my fridge lol.
We did not order dessert, but I noticed one table ordered what i am assuming was the tres leches cake, one piece to share amongst 4 people...then they odered a second piece to share. It didnt look "real" to me, but seeing that they ordered a second of the same, I almost wanted to try it.
After we paid, the waitress was up at the register with the owner learning how to do it or something, it seemed to take forever to get back to our table.
In conclusion...I have mixed reviews. The empanada and Cuban sandwich were really good. The roast pork was lacking and the drink service is just weird! lol....I will give them another try for sure! They are a local Freehold business, and I want them to do well. I think once they get past the Grand Opening confusion, things will improve. Next time I go, I am taking my own bottle of drink out of their fridge and bringing it to the table!
PS...The waitress came over during both courses to ask how everything was. This is another pet peeve of mine because my mouth is usually full when they arrive to ask this, and I really hate being interrupted during my meals. The owner also stopped by to ask if everything was allright.
And by the way you're right around the corner from an excellent!!! farmstand, heading up Wemrock road to the corner of Wemrock and Gully road, it's called the farm, excellent jersey tomatoes, peaches, corn and much more! I'm a volunteer there, will work for chow:) And the cuban place is good and Mahzu is excellent sushi!!
Friday night, just got home from having dinner there. My girlfriend ordered the red snapper and I had the Lechon Adadas (spelling?). Firstly service was poor. Kitchen was not in sync with 'Front-of-house'. Entres took almost 35 minutes to come out and both dishes were bland at best. My pork was dry. I asked for the skin to be crispy and it came out soggy. Had to send it back. Both were pooly seasoned. Just not a great experience and it was not inexpensive. I was disappointed and won't be going back any time soon. Really too bad. It could be so much better - poor execution.
Ok. Went in today.
The space is very nice. Open. Very Clean. There are big pictures of Cuba hanging on the wall. Really nice touch.
My waitress was adorable. She was very attentive and knowledgeable regarding the menu. Of course I had to order the ropa vieja so I could compare it to my grandmother's! I got it stuffed in tostones. Oh boy! The meat was so juicy and flavorful. There were green olives. And the tostones weren't greasy at all. I was pretty impressed to be honest. It tasted very authentic, as if I had gone over someone's house and they cooked it for me. The food came out hot too, which is something I always look for.
Let's see.. what else. My friend ordered the paella, I believe. It was served in a giant cast iron pot. What a nice touch! Even though the portion sizes were very plentiful, he ate it all. I tried a a mouthful, and again I was impressed by the bold flavor.
For dessert we ordered the tres leches. This is probably my favorite dessert in the world, and I'll admit, they did it justice. Good for you, ALBOC!
I thought at first the prices might be a little steep but for the portions you get it was absolutely worth it. And the food is pretty awesome.
I met the owner and his daughter (who was so sweet) and we spoke for a while about Cuba, being that it's our common heritage. He was very personable.
I will be going back there. I have their takeout menu. I'm bringing my friends. For a brand new place, I think they will do quite well. I think ALBOC is going to be a hot spot once it's name gets around!