How do you end up eating chain Cuban at the South Street Seaport when you intended on hole in the wall Cuban in Chelsea? Well, thanks to the MTA's inability to deal with rain water, I was only able to access the 6 train Friday after work. Anything diverging too far from that line was out of the question during the downpour (though the Seaport isn’t that close to the Fulton St. station).
I’ve never been to the Seaport in my eight years of NYC life. It’s not like I’ve ever had any reason to. Strangely, it’s quite the tourist attraction. Strangely, because essentially it’s a mall with chain stores you could find anywhere in the U.S. that happens to be on the East River. Maybe because of the oddball location, Cabana wasn’t crazy busy, which is always my fear on Friday nights. The vibe was very much girls night out with a few couple scattered around too.
What I hate about “fancy” Latin American food is the preponderance of boneless chicken breasts and absence of pork dishes. I eat boneless, skinless chicken breasts at home all the time, but that's weeknight health-ish cooking, courtesy of a Costco bag of Tyson’s poultry. I don't actually want to pay good money for that dry nonsense on the weekend when a supposed professional is cooking.
I settled on one of the few porky entrees, chuletas, which came with yellow rice and black beans by default. Two pork chops strikes me as little excessive, though eating half of my food allowed for two genuine meals to be made of it. A mid-week leftover pork chop isn’t the worst thing. We tried tostones stuffed with ropa vieja and shrimp (you can choose from four fillings) as a starter, and they were better than I'd expected. The orange, garlicky dipping oil a nice unhealthy touch. A pitcher of sangria rounded out the meal.
Honestly, I would’ve been happier with a cubano or cheap rice, beans and meat combo. I don’t need all the fanfare (or bathroom attendant) that comes with the more upscale versions of Cuban cuisine, though the food was a perfectly acceptable rendition.
Cabana * 89 South St. Seaport Pier 17, New York, NY