I went to my first blogger meet up on Thursday after an invitation to try The Cuban’s new menu was forwarded to Heather, admin of the Bristol Bloggers and Influencers Group on Facebook and organised with Iain from Socialight, a platform for bloggers and local restaurants to work together. Usually, these big meetups aren’t for me as I am remarkably awkward for an extrovert but this year is all about trying new things, pushing out of my comfort zones and meeting new people.
The therapy session aside I was down for trying some Latin flavours at Bristol restaurant The Cuban, located down by the busy and popular Harbourside. Admittedly I know very little about Cuba or their food but I know they love their rum and their flavours have bases in Spain, the Caribbean and Africa so I wasn’t worried I’d be stuck for something to eat.
We were treated to a masterclass in rum-based cocktails, starting with the classic Mojito, a fruity Te Veo Mañana, served with a flaming rum shot in a hollowed out passion fruit and The Cuban’s take on a Dark ‘n’ Stormy (Dark Rum, Ginger Beer with bitters and lime), the Tempest El Negra. All made with variations of Barcadi rum, the cocktails were fresh and tasty with plenty of kick. Whilst I am not a fan of sweet alcohol the Mojito’s as usual hit the spot with me.
Soon it was time to be seated for the eating portion of the evening, I definitely was ready for something to soak up the booze and was glad to see good, substantial looking dishes on offer. The Cuban offer both a tapas menu and A la carte, with the starters, lifted from the tapas menu and include crowd-pleasers like fried calamari, meat platters, boquerones and octopus. I went for the octopus (a guilty pleasure) and enjoyed it very much. The Octopus portion was generous with plenty of sweet, vinegary dressing and peppers to make it a light starter. I could have done with a hunk of bread for mopping up but I was satisfied.
For main I opted for the pork belly, which came served with fried chorizo, baby pickled onions and fried cassava. We enjoyed a few seconds of dinner theatre as the pork dishes on the table were presented under a dome filled with smoke. The pork was unctuous with silky fat and some crispy fat on top. It was a fair old chunk and very, very good. The chorizo side was different to what I’m used to but I really enjoyed the textures of the baby onions with their bursts of sharp sweetness alongside the strong, spicy paprika notes of the chorizo. I didn’t get any ginger from the glaze but the sauce that was served on the side was thick and a little sweet which complimented everything perfectly.
The cassava was a little bit of a let down though. To the uninitiated, cassava is a woody root that is popular in South American cuisine and in this instance was served in thick strips and fried. The initial taste was good, who doesn’t like fried carbs? But the root quickly became incredibly dry and hard to swallow. If the root had been served perhaps as fries with plenty of something wet, it would have been far more palatable.
Despite the one element on the plate not going down too well the rest was fabulous, I really enjoyed it. A special shout out to the manager and our server who did a great job coping with a large group and never stopped smiling. Sadly I had to leave before dessert was served but really enjoyed my evening at the Cuban. The prices of the mains are on the expensive side, but with their well-stocked rum bar, live music nights (Thur, Fri and Sat), Spanish dancers and DJ’s, they know how to put on a good party.
*Please note the meal was offered free of charge but that did not affect my opinion, nor did The Cuban see this review before posting*