Cuba Libre: A Tourist Trap?
Initially I visited Cuba Libre when they had just opened their doors to Orlando residents at Pointe Orlando. Vibrant ambiance, extensive rum selection, global flavors, wonderful service; what’s there not to like?
Located in the posh complex of Pointe Orlando; Cuba Libre is surrounded with the likes of Capital Grill, Oceanaire , and Tommy Bahamas to name a few. Cube Libre has paid more attention into the ambiance than the food, which is supposed to be under the direction of James Beard Award Winner – Chef Pernot.
Our second trip, on a rather rainy Saturday night, we were seated smack on the make shift dance floor making it difficult to eat or socialize with my company, as the Salsa entertainers were hovering right over us. To make matters worse, the waitress couldn’t wait to get rid of us. I glanced around and found empty chairs through the restaurant, then why the need to push us to finish our meal quickly? It was Saturday evening, after all?
We started our meal with Chicharrones de las Casa. Marinated steak, Chicken, Pork, and Chorizo layered with sweet sauces and Mojo. Perhaps the best part of our meal. I did enjoy the warm toasted Cuban bread accompaniment with butter. The interesting part is that they don’t bring you the bread basket until you have ordered your meal, strange? The drinks (signature Mojitos) were too sugary and diluted for my liking.
For our dinner entrees we ordered their Signature Guava BBQ Ribs, Jumbo Shrimp with Stuffed Pepper, Arroz con Pollo, and the special Fish of the day.
The so-called ‘jumbo’ shrimps were measly in portion and size, accompanied with a stuffed pepper which seemed more like a Jalapeno Pepper (omitting the heat) than a preparation to be expected from an award-winning chef’s kitchen.
The special Fish of the day too lacked in flavors; making me question the authenticity of was Cuban or even Nuevo cuisine?
The Ribs were cooked to perfection, melting in your mouth. The sauce I might add was a bit too sweet for our palate.
Thankfully, my Chicken and Rice was a perfect play on Nuevo Latin Cuisine. Creamy rice cooked with generous portion of chicken and olives contrasted well with the addition of a crispy fried chicken leg.
We never made it to dessert since; our entire dining experience was disrupted by our service and entertainers.
Perhaps, I am a purist when it comes to authentic cuisine. I left searching for the Cuban/Latin influence in the food. True, ambiance and service is an integral part of a ‘dining experience’; personally for me the food always is the star highlight.
It would be fair to assume I will not be returning to Cuba Libre any time soon. It is such a shame; since one walks into Cuba Libre in awe of its decor, hoping for a truly Cuban indulgence. Sadly, Cuba Libre has turned into yet another tourist trap to feed weary travelers who are simply looking to nourish themselves for another day of thrills at Universal/Disney.