January 10, 2007
1623 Walnut Street, Philadelphia 19103
At S 16th Street
Appetizer I: Fire and Ice Ceviche – fluke with preserved lemon, sage, hot garlic oil and crispy lemon rings ($12)
Appetizer II: Royal Palm Dates – almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon with cabrales bleu cheese ($12)
Entree I: Tempura Avocado Salad – crab and grilled asparagus with watercress tossed with preserved lemon vinaigrette ($14)
Entree II: Sancocho De Pollo – coconut chicken broth with poached chicken slices, yuca, carrots cilantro green peas and a touch of lime juice ($9)
Entree III: Vaca Frita “Fried Cow” – twice cooked crispy skirt steak with onions and cuban oregano with black beans, white rice and tomato escabeche ($21)
Entree IV: Cilantro Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon – served over a banana lentil salad with fresh horseradish cream ($23)
My friends the Marathoner v.1 (James) and the Marathoner v.2 (Paul) are leaving for Buenos Aires next week and will be living there for four months. We sat down for some much needed face time over a meal at Alma de Cuba. Alex Elkins joined us as well.
Unfortunately, Paul and Alex weren’t hungry, which made the Marathoner and I feel a bit funny for ordering up a storm. But we got over that pretty quickly.
One of my favorite things about Alma de Cuba is their complimentary bread; it’s simply incredible. The bread’s texture is dense and tastes mildly sweet. The bread is served with an oil-based dipping sauce, but I find it most delicious eaten plain. My friends enjoyed the bread as well.
The Marathoner and I ordered two appetizers. I chose the Fire and Ice ceviche because I had it once prior with Liana and loved it. The Marathoner ordered the stuffed dates because the combination of ingredients piqued his interest. The ceviche did not disappoint, it was refreshing and delicate. The fluke was tender and the crispy lemon rings were intense. Mmm. The stuffed dates were awesome as well and served atop a piece of endive with chopped red onions and a light vinaigrette. The salty bacon wrapped around the sweet date along with the pungent bleu cheese created a divine collection of flavors. Delicious!
For our entrees, Paul ordered a salad, Alex got the soup, the Marathoner ordered the salmon, and I got the vaca frita. Paul liked his salad except for the tempura avocado, he said it tasted a bit too much like deep fried butter. Alex enjoyed his soup after he discovered that it wasn’t cream-based.
The Marathoner’s salmon had definite highs and lows . The fish was fresh, the lentils were tasty (and cute), and the banana brought about an unexpected and welcomed sweetness. Unfortunately, the mustard seeds atop the fish along with the horseradish sauce were too strong for our palettes and took away from the dish overall.
I ordered the vaca frita in order to compare it to the version I had in Little Havana this past summer. The presentation at Alma de Cuba was much more beautiful than the one in Little Havana and the meat was of higher quality. The meat was wonderfully crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and very flavorful. The onions and tomato escabeche were a bit on the tart side, but the rice and beans were good. The sides at Alma were decent, but not as tasty as the ones in Little Havana. Fried sweet plantains should always accompany vaca frita.