205 - Nuevo Cuban Fare with Flare
By Mary Luz Mejia
Cuban food aficionados revel in the delights of Comida Criolla – the traditional classics like Ropa Viejo and Picadillo. But there’s a new kid on the block, Nuevo Cuban. And thanks to Andres Gonzales and his Mambo Lounge, Toronto can share the experience.
Nuevo Cuban, much like French Nouvelle Cuisine is a lighter and more modern version of the original. The style was created by famed Latino chef, Douglas Rodriguez in Miami in the late 80’s.
When his first Nuevo Cuban restaurant opened up in Coral Gables over a decade ago, foodies and gourmands everywhere, whether they were Cuban or otherwise, sat up and paid attention. The culinary style continues to flourish, and today, the Mambo Lounge’s Chef Tipan, aka Santiago (due to the fact that he studied the island’s cooking in Santiago de Cuba), puts a modern twist on tried and true classics.
His Calamares Rellenos, imported Cuban shrimp-stuffed calamari rings, is served as a hearty appetizer. Tender, grilled calamari envelops sweet Cuban shrimp with just the right hint of savoury seasonings. It’s one of my favourites, as is the Mariscada, a tropical take on the famed French Bouillabaisse soup.
Pieces of firm white fish, Cuban shrimp and lobster tails luxuriate in a homemade seafood broth tinged with garlic, herbs and tomatoes. Paired up with a mint- and lime-based Mojito cocktail and a few Cassava Chips and you’re ready for a night on the town.
Don’t forget to stick around for some wonderful original compositions performed by none other than Evaristo Machado, a former Tropicana singer/dancer from Havana. Even if it’s cold outside, it will be palm-swaying perfection. Buen Provecho!
120 Danforth Ave (east of Broadview)