Gustazo Belmont - One of the Finest Latino Meals I've Had...
Have already posted on the excellent Cubano's at this place. Was a smidge underwhelmed with the ropa vieja and other entrees that I had had when they first opened.
Was there for a work dinner last week with two other people and we had:
- Roast Pork Plate with and black beans and ripe plantains
- Roasted Eggplant, crispy capers and honey drizzled queso frito served with butternut squash bisque
So as someone who grew up in a Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican neighborhood in NYC I know from latino food. Honestly, this was haute latino of the highest order. Maybe they were just getting their stride, maybe their ropa vieja is not their forte...
The portions were generous, the roast pork meltingly delicious, slathered with caramelized onions that had some nice herbal something going on. Flawless execution.
The Tamal was the best Cuban style tamal (tend to be more complex and strongly flavored then Mexican) I have ever eaten, period. Savory and delicious.
The eggplant was a delicate wonder, a smattering of micro greens as garnish was so tasteful. The squash puree soothing and smooth.
My only quibble, the side of tostones was on the thinnner crunchier side and I tend to like them a littler thicker so the starchy chew is present. This is really just a questions of taste, and honestly for the thin crunchy style these were flawless as well.
Quite honestly one of the most refined latino meals I have ever eaten. Amazing chow.
Finally got back and tried the eggplant dish everyone raved about in this thread. I thought it would be right up my alley because I love vegetable-based dishes and Latino food, and all the components of the dish sounded like they would be delicious together. I guess it's just me, but I really disliked this. I thought the eggplant was overly salty, greasy, and mushy. The honey on the queso frito with toast didn't work for me. The butternut squash bisque had a noticeable tang to it and a strong garlicky flavor that I found off-putting. I probably won't be back. (But others reading this should take into account that everybody else seems to love this dish.)
Thanks for the report. I have been searching for a Cuban meal that matches what I was used to in my Florida days. Need to check this place out, but will skip over the Ropa Vieja.
I dined here earlier this week! When we first arrived (a group of 3) we were the only ones in the restaurant for a good half hour, but because it's so cozy it felt like we were sitting comfortably in someone's dining room. By the time we left it had filled up considerably, but still felt very intimate, and not loud at all for having several small groups in it.
I too had the roasted pork plate, and thought it was phenomenal (tender, tender, tender). We shared the guacamole, which came with banana chips, and the polenta with goat cheese and chervil, which everyone agreed was very good. A friend ordered the eggplant dish, which was as beautifully plated as any dish I've seen in Boston (butternut squash soup in separate mini pitcher on the plate, eggplant in a flan-like shape).
I also loved the BYO part. We brought a few bottles of wine, and it was so unhurried, casual, and comfortable that I would happily go back. There was only one server but she was delightful, attentive but never hovering. My only quibble was that there were a bunch of those teeny tiny gnats that seem to be everywhere right now - would love to NOT see those next time I go.
My parents had the Bistec de Palomilla recently and gave it the thumbs up.
The tortilla was very good.
I had the Masas de Puerco Fritas (pork tips) which were perfectly seasoned, though perhaps slightly overcooked. However, this was take-out, so maybe that affected the cooking. I guess I should have gotten the roast pork!
Thanks again, StriperGuy, for putting a culinary gem on my radar. A friend and I went Friday night and had an outstanding meal, all of which we shared:
Croquetas de Pollo (Chicken Croquettes)
Ensalada de Frijoles Negros (Black Bean Salad)
Puerco Asado (Slow Roasted Pork)
Picadillo a la Habanera (Picadillo)
The croquettes are 3 smallish ones, about 2" long, deeply brown and with a lot of flavors I couldn't identify but which we both loved. It came with a nice small salad of mixed baby greens, oranges and avocado with a very tasty dressing.
The black bean salad also had a very good dressing and came with wonderful long, curly chips made of green plaintain. This was really a good salad.
The roast pork absolutely knocked our socks off, meltingly tender and heaped with caramelized onions, it also had a huge mound of white rice, a bowl of black beans and 3 maduros (ripe plaintains). All of these were fantastic.
I also adored the picadillo, which was rich with seasonings and wonderful with the excellent rice; my friend liked it a lot but was not as crazy about it as I was.
You will know how much we loved it when I tell you that we were back for dinner the following night and have reservations with a larger group this Friday. The second night we repeated the croquettes and the roasted pork and loved them just as much, the pork maybe even more. We also had the Ensalada de Garbanzos (Chickpea Salad with Feta), which we liked but not as much as the black bean salad) and the Churrasco, a wonderful steak, cooked exactly to medium rare as specified, and loaded with flavor. It was supposed to come with chimichurri sauce which it did not -- we didn't even realize the lack until we heard another table asking for it -- the steak needed no help, we both thought it was one of the best we had had in recent memory. It came with congri rice, roasted potoates and maduros, all excellent. Leftover pork reheated beautifully the next day for lunch.
We sat next to some people who were gradually working their way through the menu, which sounds like an excellent plan, although I do not know how you go there and not order the slow roasted pork.
Service was very, very sweet both nights. The first night our leftovers got tossed by mistake. They were full of apologies and offered to make us something, which we did not think they should. The second night our very nice waiter told us he would guard our leftovers with his life, and we were sure glad to get them! Can't wait till Friday night...