D. Rodriguez Cuba, Miami

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Godfather strikes in Miami. That's the Godfather of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Douglas Rodriguez. A James Beard award winning chef, D. Rodriguez opens a namesake, upscale Cuban restaurant housed in the classic Art Deco hotel, The Astor in South Beach.

The restaurant has optional outdoor garden seating or indoor setting. With humidity clinging to our bodies outside, we chose the Mod Havana-meets- Colonial -Cuba decor indoors.

Our reservation was for 9pm (peak time) and waiters, in matching 1950's fedora hats, immediately sashayed over with a clever smile to ask our drink order and present us with menus. Part Fred Astaire with the bounce in his step, part gangster-like grin, I didn't know whether to start ballroom dancing or place a bet with the waiter. I loved the attitude!

Tonight we started with a classic mojito except it wasn't truly classic but still refreshing.  The original recipe calls for crushed sugar. When we quizzed our waiter Bryan for their classic ingredients, he confessed they used sugar syrup in lieu of sugar. It's a quicker process for this popular drink order. However, the drink was teeming with mint leaves and it was "refrescante"!

A Classic Mojito

For starters, we opted for a crab filled empanada that came four on a plate.  While empanadas are a typical food in Latin America, the crab filling and white sauce are the elegant twist to this traditional recipe. Thus the essence of D. Rodriguez Cuba is taking thy daily food and elevating them to haute cuisine with subtle changes and flavors.

Inspired by the seafood theme, we then selected the ceviche for the second appetizer to share. Now I've tried many ceviches throughout Miami. While I won't be quite pinning the blue ribbon for first place, the bite-size fish medley was fresh and a perfect blend of lime juices and red onions.

Portions for entrees are adequately sized. The skirt steak was recommended by other dining guests so we switched palate gears to meat. The steak was crispy on outside and tender, moist inside with chunks of avocado and a splash of tomato chimichurri sauce. What's chimichurri? (pronounced "chimee-churree") Well the traditional chimichurri  is heavy on oil and loaded with parsely and garlic. It's one of my favorites. In this case the tomato chimichurri was light in its content and application to enhance the steak flavors and not overpower it.

Skirt Steak

For dessert it was an easy selection, the famous chocolate mousse cigars with pistachio filling. Part of the attraction was the presentation. While there is one well known South Beach restaurant where the presentation exceeds the quality of the food (Barton G), in this case, D. Rodriguez Cuba executes it flawlessly.

The cigar boxes that encases the chocolate dessert

Ice vapors float out and evaporate into the air

Edible cigar and matchbook

While I'm not an aficionado of chocolate, after taking a bite into this rolled cigar, the texture of cocoa powder, the crunchy outside and oozing mousse from the center was an orgy for the palate.

And that's Jennifer's smoldering look BEFORE she took her first bite!

Suddenly an image of Bill Clinton flashed across my mind. Does the former President like chocolate?

D. Rodriguez Cuba
at Astor Hotel
956 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL  33139


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  1. Nice to see you went back to have a full meal! I love the pics - isn't the food AMAZING? that's D. Rogriguez Cuba for you =)


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