My eldest turned 12 recently and to celebrate we brought the family to Mambo Lounge. The Danforth is our neighbourhood and we wanted to stay close to home whole trying someplace different. We had been regular patrons of the Cuban place that closed a few years ago (after an ill-advised change of ownership killed the atmosphere of the place). Hence we were looking forward to trying the new place in the 'hood.
There was no hesitation when we arrived with a 12 year old and a 5 year old, and the waiter/maitre'd was extremely welcoming, gave us our pick of tables (we arrived at 6pm on a Sunday, shortly after it opened that evening). We chose to sit at the front near the Danforth, though the patio outback was very inviting. We ordered mojitos for the parents and the waiter was happy to make virgin pina coladas for the kids, though not on the menu. Mojitos were fantastic, best I've had (though I am not a connoisseur), and the kids were very happy with the coladas.
While perusing the menu, we started with fired plaintains, and then ordered the chef's selection of appetizers/tapas. While I thought the selection was meagre for $19, the fantastically spicy gazpaco (whimsically served in a cappucino cup), grilled shrimp on guacamole, and another salsa based dish that I cannot remember the name of, did not disappoint in taste. All very garlicky and slightly spicy, all but the 5 year old happily ate our fill. She contented herseld with the wonderful plaintains, lightly salted and lightly sweet.
The mains were equally enjoyed. Cuban is not a complex cuisine, at least not in my experience, and hence the mains we had were of the meat-starch-veg variety. But what meat-starch-veg! My wife had roasted spiced pork, which was three pork chops, roasted (I gather) and then seared with spices. Lovely! Thorugh circumstance, I ordered the chicken, not usually my first choice, but my daughter wanted to try the duck but was afraid she wouldn't like it, I told her to order a second dish, and I would trade if she didn't like her duck. So I ended up with chicken. But I was far from unhappy: it was heavily spiced, roasted, and very juicy. My daughter had a confit that was was tasty as many I've had in the past. All mains were served with beans and rice, as I remember, but for the life of me I can't recall the veg. Whatever it was, was quite tasty.
The wine list is small and inexpensive, and the adults both had a glass of spanish rioja. Terrifica value fo the $8/glass or so we payed.
We skipped dessert as the cake was at home, but the waiter nonetheless surprised us with a complementart clice of choclate torte for my daughter, with a candle. Nothign special, think a difullet or rocca, but appreciated and tasty.
So overall, friendly service, large portions, tasty basic, but spicy, food served in a welcoming environment, and great cocktails. Overall a welcome addition to the Danforth and we will definitely be back.
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