Cuban tapas

I still haven’t caught up on holiday eating, but I’d rather write about my dinner this past weekend at Cantina. It’s a relatively new Cuban-esque place in the East Village at 29 Avenue B at East 3rd Street. I wouldn’t recommend just walking in and hoping for a table on a Saturday night, but that’s what I did and things worked out fine. It’s strictly BYOB, so stop into the deli across the street and pick up a few Pacificos. The waitstaff will kindly keep them cold behind the bar for you.

I didn’t take any photos myself because it was dark and moody and I didn’t feel much like it. I’m not a total dork afterall. (No comments if you know me personally.) And as I’ve said before, I don’t have much interest in writing bad reviews of restaurants, so the fact that this posting is here at all must mean I’d recommend the place. It’s more of a pet peeve kind of review. I know this place is about tapas-style dining, food meant to be shared, but you should be warned that these are really small plates. The warm goat cheese dish is such a treat, you’re simply going to want more of it. And I can’t help but think that would be easy for them to do so without breaking the bank. You get four sad little slices of bread for dipping, but if I was the owner, I’d give people a nice long baguette as soon as they sit down, with plenty more where that came from. Then you can dip as you please and not feel like you and your date have to be all dainty about sharing the bread. This isn’t high-class dining. It’s use-your-bread-like-a-sponge-and-mop-up-that-yummy-stuff-in-the-plate dining. Did I mention it’s on Avenue B?

Same went for just about everything I tried — smoked chicken croquettes, Brussels sprouts, papas bravas…. that’s sort of like home fries, except that it’s barely half a potato’s worth. Really, they could double the amount of papas bravas you get and nobody would be complaining. In fact, the staff should look at my profile pic and the next time I show up for dinner, just smile, sit me down, pop open my beers, and bring me a big-ass bowl of papas bravas. That’s my idea of Havana Heaven.

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