(Miami) – I am no green to Cuban cuisine. My associations and immersions with Cuban and Latino friends exposed my palate to their native food and my awareness to their deeply passionate culture. But I am not claiming to be an expert of their food. I am not really into dissecting the flavors of everything that goes into my mouth. I eat and then, I feel. If the food tastes good to me, makes me smile and makes me say, “OMG!”, then, consider me a follower.
As soon as my friends and I landed in Miami, we got the rental car and headed to Versailles. I did not come here because it is authentic Cuban, although it really is. I don’t pay attention to authenticity much. But because I heard so much good stuffs about this place and I have been here like 5 years ago. I wanted to re-validate what I have been hearing from other people and at the same, re-live my first Cuban experience (and I’m talking about food).
The only remnant of my recollection when I first ate here is that I enjoyed the food a lot. However, this is kind of an unfounded statement. Well, because I was buzzed at that time I went to Versailles from too much Mojitos and Piña Coladas from South Beach bars prior. This time around, I am sober with clean taste buds and a hunger to quench.
We started off with drinks. One of my friends got a guyabano shake and the rest of us got Mojitos. I almost forgot how guyabano, which is so common to the Philippines, tastes like. It is lusciously bracing!. And the Mojito, so refreshing! I love it! I could leave this restaurant happy already without the entrées.
Batido de Guanabana (Guyabano Shake) and Mojito (mint, sugar and lime are crushed and topped with Bacardi Rum and soda)
I saw this guava pastries featured in a Food Network show. And I had tasted some version of this in LA and Chicago. But Versailles’ rendition of guava pastries, well, is just out of this world. I could eat a dozen of this in 5 minutes and forget about my diet.
Pastelitos de Guayaba (Guava Pastries)
Don’t underestimate the free bread. These pieces of toasted slices of roll showered with sugar brought back memories of the daily snack my Lola (grandmother) had prepared for me when I was little. Drama! haha! :)
The entrées are outstanding. Home-cooked meals at its best! I believe that Cuban food is great this way- no fancy schmancy plating or gimmicks, just the fundamental Latin flavors profoundly developed through slow cooking and pairing them with native sides of plantains and Moros rice. While my friends shared small portions of their food with me, I enjoyed the huge cuts of lengua (beef tongue) all by myself. I was transplanted back to Manila eating the ever tender, ever rich lengua estofado in Alba’s. So good!
Braised Beef Tongue – slow cooked with wine and served in its natural gravy with moros rice and plantain
Oxtail Veal Stew with white rice and plantains (There’s more to oxtail than “kare-kare”. This dish is hearty good.)
Fried Chicken Cuban Style – quarter of chicken, served with French fires or fried plantains
Grilled Pork Chops – served with moros rice and fried plantains
3501 Southwest 8th Street, Miami, FL 33135-4109 (305) 441-2500