In an effort to eat lots of Caribbean food before leaving Boston, I've been making the rounds this week. Yesterday I had a great shrimp roti at Ali's in Mattapan - their shrimp curry is one of the best shrimp dishes I've had in Boston, since the shrimp always seem to be really plump and tender. The small roti only includes 5 shrimp (I wish it could include a few more), but it's still delicious, especially along with the pumpkin.
Tonight I had dinner at Merengue on Blue Hill Ave, and was quite impressed. it was my first visit, and I wish I had gone sooner.
We shared the following:
Fried yuca - This was not what I was expecting. Instead of regular fried pieces of yuca, this was more like a soft yuca patty (in the shape of a mozzarella stick), deep fried. Came with a super garlicky dipping sauce (almost pure garlic), and I was pleasantly surprised by how good these were. Although I also do like regular fried yuca.
Chicken mofongo - It's nice that they have a chicken option here for people who don't eat pork, and I thought this version was pretty good (I admit that I'm not a huge mofongo fan in general). Served with chicken broth on the side, which softened up the otherwise very hard and dry mofongo. Lots of garlic flavor, and quite tasty combined with the liquid.
Lobster al ajillo - I was expecting pieces of lobster in the shell, but instead the lobster had been removed from the shell! Saved us some work! It was sauteed with lots of oil and garlic, and was really good, even if the garlic overpowered the lobster flavor a bit. A generous serving (at least a whole lobster, if not slightly more?) for $18.
Fried plantains (maduros) - Really good version, very soft and sweet. Some of the best I've had in Boston, although to be fair, there are a lot of places that do fried plantains quite well.
Bistec encebollado - Very large portion and much better than the version of bistec encebollado I had at El Oriental de Cuba last year. The onions were sweet, the meat had a nice marinade (a touch of rosemary maybe? I couldn't quite ID it) and was slightly sweet as well. This came with rice and beans, which were very good too. Also came with a small side salad (so did the lobster) which was mostly iceberg lettuce, so nothing too exciting there.
Passion fruit daiquiri - Large serving for $7 (served in a pint glass!), and really good. Nice balance of passion fruit, lime, rum and ice, so it was just sweet enough without being overpowering.
Mango daiquiri - Not as good as the passion fruit version, since it tasted like mango pulp was used (as opposed to fresh mango) - it ended up being a bit too cloying. But still not bad, I think I would have liked this more had it not been right next to the excellent passion fruit version.
Total bill was surprisingly reasonable about $57 before tip - this was enough food to stuff 3 of us.
I thought the space inside was nice and a fun place to be, and would definitely return. I have seen this place mentioned on Chowhound before, but it hasn't come up in a while, so hopefully this post encourages others to return.