My friend Lisa and I met for dinner at a new-to-us Cuban restaurant near where I work. She gets a dinner out without her husband and kids and I have an excuse not to work late on a Friday night - win-win for both of us. Plus neither of us had ever been to La Bodeguita del Medio before and it's always fun to try a new place.
The restaurant was filling up quickly but fortunately we had reservations and were seated as soon as we arrived. It probably helped we were both a little late *cough*. Blame traffic.
In any case, we opted to try out two dishes and share them: Arroz Con Pollo and Tierra y Mar (or surf 'n turf if you want the English translation). Tierra y Mar was marinated skirt steak, coconut-crusted shrimp , sofrito mashed potatoes and asparagus with avocado-cilantro pesto. Yes, it was as good as it sounded. The only drawback is the price point was a bit high at $26. The restaurant isn't really all that swanky, the serving wasn't super huge and there were only 3 shrimp on it. Still, it was tasty.
Tierra y Mar
The Arroz con Pollo was good as well: Cuban-style braised chicken, platanos maduros (plantains) and yellow rice. It was all under a sauce so you couldn't tell what was chicken and what was plantain until you sliced into it. At $18.50, it was cheaper than the Tierra y Mar and had a more generous serving although taste-wise, I think I liked the skirt steak and shrimp a tad bit better.
Arroz con Pollo
Lisa and I have been friends since junior high and one of the keys to maintaining a multiple-decades-long friendship is having a meeting of the minds when it comes to dessert. Meaning since there were two of us, of course we needed to order two desserts that we would both share. Is that friendship or what?
Bread Pudding with chocolate chips and sultanas in rum sauce
The special of the night that our server told us about was a bread pudding with chocolate chips and sultanas topped with vanilla bean gelato and accompanied by a rum sauce. I don't care for rum but we figured it would be okay in a bread pudding. Gads, were we wrong. The rum sauce was so strong it might as well have been straight rum. We didn't want the candle to be too close to it in case it went up in flames and we ended up with flambeed bread pudding. So we just ate the gelato and parts of the top half of the bread pudding, being careful not to touch the rum sauce at the bottom - neither one of us wanted to get drunk off the sauce (seriously, it was that strong).
Fortunately, our second dessert of caramelized bananas turned out much, much better and we polished that off with no problem. See, that's why it's good to order two desserts; one must always have a backup. When our server came to clear our table and asked about our meal, Lisa casually mentioned the rum in the bread pudding was really strong. It wasn't a complaint, just feedback for the kitchen. But our kindly server told us when he later brought our bill that he had taken the bread pudding off. We were taken aback as we hadn't expected that but thanked him. I don't believe in complaining about food or service to try and get something for free, no matter how bad it was but when it does happen, I end up increasing the tip to cover the price of the freebie. Even though technically we got it for free, at least we put the price of the bread pudding into the pocket of our server as a tip. Another win-win. And it was really nice of our server and the restaurant to make that kind of gesture. That alone would bring me back.