Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cuban Sandwich Cafe

North of the Mueller development, tucked away in a slightly obscure location, sits Cuban Sandwich Cafe, which is both a cafe and bakery. I've known of this place for a good 6 to 9 months now, but rarely make it to the northeast part of town (it's on Briarcliff, off of Berkman). A Saturday afternoon was a good time to avoid traffic issues, and to meet up with a friend who doesn't live too far from there. You walk into the cafe and immediately see their pastry case. I was having hard time getting a shot of the case, but then I realized, the front window reflects perfectly in the glass!
Ordering at the counter, my friend picked ropa vieja, one of her favorite dishes. She was extremely pleased with it, saying it was one of the best she's had in Austin. The stewed beef was tender and flavorful, as was the rice and black beans, which had a buttery-ness to them. The  yuca didn't do a whole lot for me, but it never has. Too starchy.
I figured, if I am eating at a place called Cuban Sandwich Cafe, I ought to order a Cuban sandwich, and I can never pass up maduros (sauteed plantains). Hearty portion, nicely pressed, ham and lechon (stewed pork). Maybe a bit heavy on the yellow mustard, but overall, a tasty sandwich. I can't say that I am an expert on Cuban sandwiches by any stretch, but I enjoyed it. The maduros could have used a touch of salt (this coming from me, *shocking*!), but were tender, and had the nice caramelized bits around the edges.
After eating, I took a good look back at the pastry counter. I got one of the cinnamon sugar twists, that you see in the bottom of the case, and a coconut macaroon to its right. The twist had sort of an odd sweetness to me...almost as if it had a fruit filling in it, but it didn't. I couldn't really place it, almost like pineapple. Fairly good flaky texture, but the taste somehow wasn't my favorite. The macaroon was better, nice and coconutty, but a bit dense.

If you're thinking of heading up there, you might want to call to see if they are open. Their website, Facebook page, and this sign on the door all list different hours; it would certainly help if they were all consistent! I guess I'd go with the door sign, Mon - Sat, 8:30 am - 7pm, closed on Sunday.
There was a woman in there eating tamal cubano, and I guess I will have to go back to find out how they differ from Mexican (or even NEW Mexican) tamales!

Bits and Bites

Events... in addition to the weekend-long Austin Food and Wine Festival.....
-- Today, Chef Michelle Bernstein will be doing a cooking demo with Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki of La Condesa, at Macy's (in conjunction with Macy's Culinary Council and the Austin Food and Wine Festival) at Barton Creek Square Mall. 6 pm. Free. I'll be there!
-- Joel Ozersky, a James Beard award-winning food writer will be at Lucy's Fried Chicken on Friday, April 27th from 2 - 5pm, signing copies of his new book, Colonel Sanders and the American Dream.
-- "Great Spring Revival" wine tasting event at Max's Wine Dive, Saturday, April 28, 1 - 4pm, $25
-- Jack Allen's Kitchen and Peligroso Tequila are doing a 5-course pairing dinner, Tuesday, May 1st at 7 pm, $65/person.
-- Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fall on the same day this year (can you figure out the date?). Several spots holding their unique "Cinco de Derby" events, including: Peche, eleven plates, Paggi House, Lucy's Fried Chicken, and Swift's Attic.
-- Sustainable Food Center's annual Farm to Plate fundraiser, featuring an amazing lineup of local talent will be May 10th at 6:30pm at Barr Mansion. Tickets $125, and moving fast!
-- Mother's Day (Sunday, May 13) brunches at Sagra, Paggi House

-- New trailer on South 1st, Phatso's, doing Philly cheese steaks. They're by Wasota and SoCo to Go, just south of the School for the Deaf.
-- Further down South 1st, Sugar Mama's Bakeshop is now open Tues - Sat at 9 am for delicious breakfast goodies, like cinnamon rolls and muffins..... *waistline expanding!*
-- Newish spot Olive and June has tweaked their hours, and now also offering a Sunday supper, serving family style. See their website for details.
-- Driving into Sunset Valley the other day, I spied two things: the recently closed Estancia Churrascuria is becoming Royal India, and the closed and torn down Red Robin is yet another chain, Longhorn Steakhouse