23 April 2011

Cuba Libre, DC, saves the day!

My first experience at Cuba Libre was a lunch with a coworker early in 2011. I gave it 3 stars on my Yelp review and commented that I'd like to return with a big group sometime.

I had the opportunity to do that in early April. I brought a group of 11 people. I had made a reservation just a few days before. When I arrived and checked in at the hostess stand, I heard the words that every diner dreads, "I'm sorry sir. We don't have a reservation for you."

Aha! I whipped out my iPhone, pulled up the e-mail confirming the reservation and showed it smugly to the hostess.

"Sir," came the reply. "This reservation is for tomorrow night." Doh! How in the world would I find another restaurant that could accommodate 11 people at 8 PM without a reservation?

The sympathetic hostess said, "Hold on a minute. Let me see what we can do."

Well, it took 20 minutes, but somehow, she was able to put together a table for 11 people. I would have upgraded my Yelp review to 5 stars based on customer service alone. But the appreciative comments I got from my guests about the food and the ambiance just added to my opinion of the place.

We did as I suggested in my earlier review. We started with a round of drinks and several appetizers to share. I had a caipirinha that was very good. (Helped to relax me from the tension of almost not getting a table.) We ordered a flight of all five ceviches that were on the menu that night. We also ordered a selection of four empanadas and a couple orders of the guacamole. As with my lunch experience, the ceviches were great. The guacamole also was very good, but kind of a small serving. We should have ordered more; I don’t think everyone got a taste. The empanadas were good, but I prefer baked empanadas. (These were fried.)

After the appetizers, some people ordered dinners and others ordered more small plates. I had a small plate order of boquerones – white anchovies served with grape tomatoes, cucumber, and an olive ‘salpicon’ (which was pretty much a black olive tapenade). I do like anchovies, and this was a very creative dish. However, it wasn’t very filling, and I probably would order it again as an appetizer rather than an light entrée.

Thank you Cuba Libre for saving the night for me and my group.

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