Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Carmen's Cuban Cafe and Lounge

Yesterday Wes Dan and I went to Carmen's. The food was good, although the plantains are better at Cool Runnings, a little Jamaican place I will eventually blog about.  I ordered a steak sandwich, which was in retrospect not very smart of me. The sandwich was good, but it wasn't very Cuban. Dan ordered this wonderful roasted pork and lime dish that was not only tender and flavorful it tasted authentic. The combination of the salty pork and the fresh lime was so natural I can't imagine pork any other way now.   If I'm going to really get into the heart of food, I'm going to have to be a little bit more adventurous with my selections. 

But missed opportunities aside, what really struck me about Carmen's is the decor. There is another Cuban place that Dan and I frequent.The Havana Grill is a bright open place that looks as Wes put it, like a house converted into a restaurant. The service is casual cafeteria-style with more outdoor seating than indoor and the emphasis on the food seems to be more homestyle than anything else.  The food there is great and comforting and I recommend it to everyone but I'll be going back to Carmen's before I return to Havana Grill. 

See, and some part of me realizes that this makes me a superficial person, but Carmen's looks like a Cuban place should. The bar is covered in dark wood rafters and the whole place is dimly lit. There are fabric wall hangings and fancy lights that project dim patterns on the walls. It's moody, mysterious and romantic.I'm prone to flights of fancy and I have a tendency to let my imagination run away with me. When I have the opportunity to slip away from a hectic day, sit in a romantic Cuban cafe , sip an Ironbeer, (not actually a beer) and indulge in a 30 second vacation fantasy, the comfort of that beats comfort food any day. 

The other highlight of Carmen's was the Tres Leches cake. I loved it, but better than that was watching Dan try it for the first time.  I hope he doesn't mind me writing about this, but I sort of have a love hate relationship with food. I mean I love it, but since I'm always struggling with my weight and balancing portions and all that tiring stuff sometimes I get so sick of it, food, weight, the whole thing.  But Dan, he can enjoy food like no one else I've met. Totally guilt-free. When he enjoys food, especially when it's food I've cooked, he looks so appreciative. Every cook should have a customer like Dan and I really wish who ever made the Tres leches cake could have seen him try it.  They would have continued on baking happily for the rest of their lives armed with the most rewarding kind of job satisfaction. 

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