We ate at Cuba Libre last night after being invited there by friends. Well, the surroundings are something to behold on a Saturday night. We arrived at 8 and when we left at 10 it was still as jam-packed with people. Both bars (upstairs and down) were mobbed, 5-6 people deep (didn't help that the festival of world cinema was down the street at the Ritz East). It was very hard to hear our friends or server and it was sooo dark we couldn't really read the menu. I saw more silicone and Ken and Barbie's than I ever have in my life. The leather-clad bouncers and security guys with their ear mics add to the surreal mood.
That being said, we all felt the food was very good, very tasty, and reasonably priced. Portions are very large. It really isn't traditional Cuban food at all, but jazzed-up takeoffs and fusions from traditional dishes. Our duck salad, seafood tamales and lobster empanadas were good as was the sea bass, seafood stew, and pork tenderloin for entrees. We were too stuffed for dessert. Drinks were good but steep, as is the short wine list.
I would eat there again, but only on a slow off-night (if there is such a thing there). All in all, it was too much glitz and glam (Ken & Barbie go to Disney?) that I think overshadows the food. Definitely NOT a chowhound kinda place.
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