I can honestly say that I practically tried everything on the menu. I can also honestly say that I probably wouldn't have visited Son Cubano of my own volition. It's interesting seeing restaurants from a journalistic (I use that term loosely) perspective versus a personal one. You might enjoy the food or respect the chef, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you'd pick the place for an impromptu Thursday night dinner. Clientele and location are also big factors for me, and well, the meatpacking district doesn't need any explaining, does it? I did dig the restaurant's location, smack against the increasingly out-of-place Western Beef.
The chef was beyond generous and wanted to give me a taste of everything Cuban. And I do mean everything. I just expected a couple quintessential dishes, so I could get schooled on what makes Cuban cuisine Cuban for a NY Post article not an encyclopedia entry. Not that I was complaning.
But during at least three points during the evening James and I cried culinary uncle and hoped the procession had come to an end. And then more plates would come out. Four or five appetizers including empanadas, fried pork, a mushy polenta thing with crab, croquettes, then three kinds of rice and beans, a roast pork leg, ropa vieja, boiled yucca, four desserts: a regular flan, a tiny super rich milkless flan, a crazy dulce de leche sweet made from curdling the caramel in lime juice and bread pudding. I know I'm missing a few items.
It was almost like a cruel joke or social experiment–how much free food will a person take before "oh no, I couldn't eat another bite" turns from politeness to terror. But I'm the type who can't bear to waste food, so it was painful to leave so much behind. We didn't pace ourselves in the beginning, not realizing this was a marathon.
I can say that I feel smarter about Cuban food, and that I might not have a craving for Cuban food any time in the near future.
Son Cubano * 405 W. 14th St., New York, NY