Revolucion De Cuba

I normally visit restaurants on Friday lunchtimes because it gets the weekend off to a good start and shows off the service under pressure but I called at Revolucion de Cuba on a Tuesday as I had to go to the dentist to have a bridge fitted in the afternoon. I thought that I had better have something substantial for my one meal of the day as I knew that I would be banned from eating for the rest of the day. For once I have a huge criticism of the experience. My bill was highly inflated for what I had. Not at the restaurant, that was amazing value, but at the dentist. I think I was charged for the Humber Bridge instead of a couple of fake gnashers. Goodness knows what the Osmonds’ dental bill is. The premises are a huge room with a cocktail bar on one side and various styles of tables and chairs – the restaurant, not the dentist. Unsurprisingly the walls were covered with photographs of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Ernest Hemingway. Strictly speaking Hemingway had nothing to do with the Cuban Revolution which overthrew Fulgencio Batista in 1959; in fact he left for Idaho in 1960 when he heard that Castro wanted to nationalise American property on the island and never went back. The music was good and introduced a sunny Latin/Caribbean ambience to a rainy Leeds. The main menu looked really interesting but I went for one of the Cuban sandwiches. There are three to chose from but I went for the Classic Cubano billed as ‘the cornerstone of any Cuban lunch hour.’ The description is ‘two toasted slices of glazed Cuban style bread stuffed with roasted mojo pork, sliced ham, cheese, dill pickles and a layer of mustard served with fries.’ The bread was basically a large baguette warm and crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. Although all of the ingredients were present and correct the dill pickle was a little overpowering and masked the taste of the meats and cheese. The fries were thin cut and thankfully came unsalted. I do like salt on fries but I like to be able to regulate the amount. They were crispy and perfectly cooked. The price for this was £8.95 but that included a small glass of Merlot so excellent value. The service was superb, just the right balance of attentiveness without being overbearing. I would return here but next time I will try something from the main menu.

My mind starts wandering in all sorts of directions when I am waiting for meals in restaurants and this time it turned to the after effects of various styles of food. I must stress that it is thirty-six hours since this meal and I am fine. In fact it is one of the cleanest eateries I have visited in ages, especially the toilets, so this is just hypothetical. I was thinking that the after effects from a bad Indian is called Delhi Belly and a duff Mexican will invoke Montezuma’s Revenge so would a dodgy Cuban give you Castroenteritis? Just a thought.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 10th May, 2016


Caracas Grill

Please Note that since writing this article Caracas Grill has moved to York Place

Stan is lunching
 again, and this time he headed to Caracas Grill on Duncan Street, for some South American inspired street food.

This week I am combining two of the trends of last year:  street food and South American fare. It is a bit early to pick up on a trend for this year. I have travelled quite widely in my life but one thing which is still on my bucket list is to dance the tango with some raven-haired beauty in a dimly lit bar in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately what with the arthritis in my knees I will be lucky to get to do the hokey cokey at the local Derby and Joan Club. Luckily, my teeth are still in good working order so I can at least give the nosh a good run for its money.

Caracas Grill is what looks to be a small unit on Duncan Street, but there is a seating area upstairs so plenty of room for everyone. The decor is pretty basic with odd chairs and tables but this is a street food place so it adds to the atmosphere. If the furniture is basic then the menu is even more so, again in line with a street food outlet. Everything on offer comprises steak, chicken or pork sausages. It reminded me of the ‘Spam Sketch’ from ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus.’

I selected my meal from the ‘Express Lunch’ menu which has the choice of either pepitos, which are Venezuelan sandwiches, or parrillas, slices of marinated meat. With either dish comes a soft drink and a side along with a selection of sauces. I settled on steak and chicken parrillas at £8.50 which came in an enamel dish, as did the large coleslaw side. Looking at other peoples’ orders I surmised that pepitos are just parrillas in a baguette. In the condiment rack which was delivered to my table was a selection of sauces. For the less adventurous there was mayo, ketchup and mustard but for the rest there was a choice of guasacara, a mild concoction of green peppers and herbs, tartar, which is mayonnaise with herbs and onion or thirdly, the more explosive picante, a lethal combination of chillies, red peppers and herbs.

In the name of research I tried all three of the latter group. They were very tasty with the picante being hot enough to challenge most palates. Had I not opted for the coleslaw I could have had a side of fries or hallaquitas described on the menu as ‘boiled corn flour dough in red pepper water.’ The steak looked to be skirt which is good for this type of dish as it is full of flavour but needs to be cooked in small strips as it was here. It is the cut of steak usually used in fajitas as it keeps a hint of chewiness. The chicken was done in the same way and was equally flavoursome. For my soft drink I had a black coffee.

I must end the review by mentioning the service, which was excellent. The waiter who took my order was very pleasant and efficient; he seemed genuinely interested in whether I was enjoying my lunch but was not over intrusive.

I may return in December for a festive lunch, a sort of Christmas Caracas. Look, if it’s good enough for Thai restaurants…

Article first published by Leeds Living on 16th February, 2016