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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Victors 1959 Cafe


So I have been going out to eat on my regular schedule (all the time), yet have not found the time to jot down my thoughts. However, I had a pretty good experience  at a new place that just hit my radar - Victor's 1959 Cafe - a Cuban Joint in Minneapolis. Cuban food, and everything about Cuba intrigues me - it seems such a melting pot of the unknown. I checked out there menu online and was immediately interested so I rolled down there last Friday. 

It was tough to not abort mission and head to the neighboring Grand Cafe, which has been on my list for months, but I stuck with it because I needed something spicy, bold and different. The place is small, overflowing with character and extremely inviting. Our waitress had 2 ice cold Pacificos in our hands before our asses hit the seats. 

The menu is full of traditional Cuban fare and I isolated my entree within seconds. I was set on the Picadillo a la Cubano which appeared to be a mash-up of strong flavors featuring  ground-beef, peppers, capers, olives and raisins. The preparation sounded closer to something I would have thought I'd seen in Sicily before Cuba. I also ordered the Cubano platter for the table which was a combo of Empanadas, croquettes and tostones. The platter was a heavy triumverant - all fried, but some items were clearly better then others. The tostones were huge and pretty bland, other then the refreshing citrus and garlic toping. The croquettes were rich and had a distinct powerful ham flavor similar to serrano. Lastly, the Empanadas were huge and full of a robust and flavorful chicken mixture, but it got lost in the amount of dough incorporated into the folded crunchy pocket. If the execution was a bit smaller, it would have been better, in my mind.

Next I received my entree which looked and smelled like  flavor explosion the size of the Cuban Missile Crisis - although I don't believe anything actually blew up in either instance. I tore into the dish hungry to continue to feed my craving for some spice and bold flavors, and it just never really happened. The powerful ingredient list was all there, but it never really integrated they way I was hoping it would. Everything just kind of ran together and all the integrity of the individual ingredients was sort of lost on me. I never got the brininess of the capers and olives or the sweetness of the raisins, they just sort of cancelled each-other out. It was still a decent dish, but I was looking for some fire and flavor. I will say that the accompanying plantains we're freakin' awesome. They were cooked perfectly - soft, with a nice little caramelization on it. They were really the highlight of the meal. 

Conclusion: I'd go back, but I think I would reserve it for a Saturday lunch or breakfast. They have a list of sandwiches that looked really good and I'm always down for a good Cubano (although it will be tough to beat my Muddy Pig favorite). Serve it up with one of their cheap mexican beers and you've got a killer lunch. The breakfast options looked good as well. I think the dish I picked out was a bit too complicated to stand on it's own pillars, but I think they could whip up a bang up lunch or a mean, authentic Cuban breakfast.

Happy Eating,

-Teddy

1 comment:

Bhobbs said...

T-

I tend to agree with you - for all the flavorful flare I expected, Victor's left me a little underwhelmed.
I would go back for breakfast though, and who say's you can't enjoy a cheap beer with brunch! The Pacifico and company where really the highlights of this meal.
-bh

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