Escudo de Cuba, Dalston
5 May 2016
We were all pretty excited for Escudo de Cuba having fond memories of an excellent evening spent there, post-our-Poutine eating experience in nearby Dalston. At the time the cocktails went down nicely – the Pornstar Martini being the highlight – and we’d admired the food coming out of the kitchen to nearby tables. So having researched alternative Cuban restaurants, we were secretly relieved to find that Escudo looked the most promising. Visit the website for an idea of the vibe and some excellent blaring Cuban music.
The night started well when Steve and Joe realised that their happy hour cocktails arrived with a moreish plate of plantain chips. So moreish that when I arrived 15 minutes later they’d all disappeared and I was entreated to get on and order some drinks so we could have some more. I had a ‘Ginger Latino’ which was refreshing and sufficiently intoxicating that I thought it was a good idea to drink two.
We opted for a sharing starter titled Aperitivos ‘Escudo de Cuba’ – a selection of the house specialities. We gleefully munched our way through grilled and spiced chicken, beef, red peppers, baked plantain and yuca chips (quite similar to plantain) and Cuba’s take on the empanada (more pastry than bread-based and very delicious).
Our mains were carefully selected to get the maximum range of intriguing Cuban sides. We ordered the quintessential Cuban dish, according to our waiter, Ropa Vieja A La Cubana, Pescado Fresco Del Día, the fish of the day which came with Yuca Con Mojo which we were keen to try, and the Patatas Asadas Al Horno Enchilada which came with rice and beans. Steve had done his research here and impressed our waitress by asking whether the rice and beans were ‘moros y cristianos’ (a rice and beans dish where the beans are cooked in with the rice) or ‘arroz congri’ (basically rice and beans cooked separately and mixed together). She laughed and told us it was moros y cristianos, although when it arrived we were pretty sure it was actually arroz congri.
The Ropa, when it arrived, was a shredded braised beef stew, cooked in red wine. Very rich and delicious although it became a bit sameish by the end of the dish – it was good to rotate for some alternative flavours. It was, however, definitely the best main. The Enchilada was good but not definably different to other enchiladas I’ve had. I couldn’t tell you how a Cuban enchilada differed from others across the world. The fresh fish was nicely cooked but the sides were disappointing. We decided yuca was much like plantain but we were glad we’d tried it. Overall, good filling food although more bland than our starters which had promised much more. We washed it down with a couple of Cuban beers from the extensive drinks list.
Feeling very full, Steve and Joe managed to find space for Banana Al Compo Con Ron, a banana dessert cooked in orange, cinnamon and rum. A tasty end to the meal.
Overall, we decided that the starters were by far the highlight of the meal and we’d be tempted, on that basis, to return to try their tapas menu, which featured some of the Cuban starters, plus the extensive list of cocktails which wash everything down nicely and merit a return-visit on their own. A great place to spend an evening: friendly staff, great Cuban music and a nightclub downstairs if you find yourselves staying until the early hours – what’s not to like?