I went to Paladar last night and thought it was good. It fills a niche in LA that I've thought has been empty too long: the high-end Cuban restaurant.
Yeah, we have Versailles and other low-key places, but Paladar is a great place to take a date or something like that. Really cool ambiance, low lighting, glazed cigar leaves as wallpaper. Good mojitos, small but good wine list. Service was friendly and professional (the bartender, Alan, was so great!).
I had a pretty uninteresting salad which was probably my fault for picking the stupid thing when there were more interesting starters on the menu. I can't even remember what it was called, that's how boring that was.
For the main, I had "ropa vieja," which, well... had some presentation issues, although the restaurant tried its best. There's not much you can do with a shredded steak dish that just naturally looks like a pile of dog vomit. But it was very tasty, I swear! Smoky and juicy and sweet. Served with rice (blah) and beans (mmm. very good, in their thick, reduced cooking liquid, served seperately with a spoon for dishing them over the rice, meat, whatever). Fried plantains finished the plate and were yummy, as I always think fried plantains are.
My date had the flank steak, which was excellent, really excellent. Cut perfectly against the grain for maximum tenderness, cooked to the right point, etc. I don't even know what the sides were because I was too involved in my own dish, frankly.
We ordered a side dish of fried potatoes with a mysterious green dipping sauce that was addictivly good, almost sweet and sour. The potatoes were a bit dry and got chewy when cool, unfortunately.
Dessert was chocolate macadamia tart, which had less chocolate than I thought it would, and an overly thick/hard crust. But the filling was really really tasty, sticky and sweet like the best part of a sticky bun.
So, yeah, it was good, although I think they have some kinks to work out, still.
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