Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cuban Revolution

The American Tobacco District is what I consider to be one of two hotspots in downtown Durham (the other being Brightleaf Square). If you want to make an evening out of an outing to the performing arts center or the ballpark, American Tobacco is the place to go. One new restaurant there, Cuban Revolution, was our destination on a cool Friday evening.

The restaurant itself is quite dark on the inside. The dining room was bustling with activity, most of which was clearing out to go see Kathy Griffin at the DPAC. We were seated right away. To start, we ordered a mango milkshake and an egg cream. While the mango milkshake did not have much flavor at all, the egg cream was fizzy, creamy and delicious.

JFK Sandwich

One of our entrees was the JFK, a steak sandwich on Cuban bread. The sandwich was slathered with mayonnaise. We're still unsure if this was because they just like mayo or if they were trying to make up for a sub-par sandwich. On the side were some black beans and rice which tasted pretty good, but the texture was off. Beans normally have a grainy texture both inside and in the surrounding sauce. But these beans were disconcertingly smooth. The rice had the same issue, making me think that the whole lot was over-buttered.

Ropa Vieja

I ate the ropa vieja, which had good flavor coming from the tomatoes and peppers in the sauce. I was not accustomed to having so much broth with my ropa vieja, but it tasted fine. I would have eaten the broth, but our waitress pretty much disappeared after we got our food, so I was never able to get a spoon before I lost interest. On the side were some platanos maduros, which were firm and sweet, as well as some tostones seasoned with adobo, which were pretty good.

It is very difficult for me to give Cuban Revolution a lot of credit because it seems to be nothing spectacular, especially for the price. I grew up in a suburb of Tampa, which has an extensive Cuban community. I'm accustomed to receiving tremendous quantities of delicious ropa vieja with lots of yellow rice and maduros on the side for a reasonable price. As one of few Cuban outlets in Durham, Cuban Revolution may be the best we have, but that still does not make it a great restaurant. If you're in the American Tobacco District, I would recommend going to Tyler's Taproom or the Mellow Mushroom. As for Durham's Cuban scene, it seems we will need to stand up and demand better quality Cuban fair: viva la comida!

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