While its Consilient siblings Hibiscus and Fireside Pies may get more attention these days, Cuba Libre is doing perfectly fine, thank you, with its south-of-the-border menu and minty mojitos.
Initially framed as a bar with food, Cuba Libre has matured into a confident, competent restaurant, targeted to folks in their 20s who love Friday nights out with friends, cute handbags, and cocktails that end with “tini.” They also love that you can eat a decent, even interesting, meal here for less than $20. And they don’t seem to mind if the upholstery’s torn here and there.
Spicy grilled mahi mahi taco platter held delicate chunks of fish in rolled tortillas, with a crisp jicama slaw and sweet chutney. Paella, the Spanish rice casserole, was all dolled up, with a row of mussels and a trio of glazed shrimp staring down a mound of rice, sausage, crab, and jerk chicken. It was about more than good looks: the kitchen added exactly the right amount of saffron to enhance the broth-soaked rice.
Purists might not have recognized the pressed Cuban sandwich, it was so thick with sliced jerk chicken and roasted pork asado. But there are worse problems to have. Asian items such as the shrimp spring roll appetizer seemed out of place. But desserts such as the luscious coffee crème brûlée were unquestionably sans frontiers.
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