Good Eats: Soul de Cuba

Today my every-so-often NYC Eats review series is taking a field trip! We’re goin’ on the road to New Haven, CT, where Charlie is a grad student. We’ve both been wanting to try out this intimate but inviting Cuban eatery, Soul de Cuba, since he started school in September of 2010, but we just got around to visiting when I was there this past weekend.

What’s a good dinner without a cocktail to start? That’s what I thought. I opted for the caipirinha, which pleased my sweet tooth and kept Charlie from sneaking any of my drink.

(Apologies up front for the mehhhh iPhone-quality photos–I wasn’t anticipating dinner being so award-worthy! I suppose I should just give in to my true blogger nature and carry a camera with me everywhere…)

Lookit that muddled lime and sugar…yum yum yum. Charlie opted for a dark and stormy, which I tried a sip of–you could really taste the blackstrap molasses! A bit too assertive for me, but very much a Charlie drink.

Now, the food at Soul de Cuba…oh, goodness. We were thisclose to ordering the prix fixe, just because everything on it looked so amazing. But. I’m the kind of girl who picks a restaurant based on the potential of the dessert menu. And, alas, the Tres Leches cake was not being offered on the prix fixe menu that night!

A la carte it was.

I opted for the soup of the day to start–a white bean soup with chorizo, potato, and carrot. This basically = all of my favorite things in one bowl of yumminess. Elated does not begin to describe my state of appetizer consumption.

(Charlie is of the opinion that I need to be in my own posts more, despite my leeriness about using a photo of myself. However, my enthusiasm for this soup won out. Yum.) The chorizo was smoky and incredibly flavorful, and at the risk of waxing eloquently about texture (guilty), the combination of the creamy white beans, the tender potatoes and carrots, and the meaty bite of the sausage was to.die.for.

And because we were indecisive, Charlie took one for the team and ordered the appetizer sampler–from left to right, those are fried plantains, a spicy crab cake (croquetas de jaiba), and potato croquettes (papa rellena). And don’t worry, I helped. Oh wait, you weren’t worried? Whoops.

For my entree, I was really excited to try the ropa vieja–shredded beef with onions and peppers, rice and beans, and more plantains (these ones were kind of blackened so they were crisp on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside). It did not disappoint. I’m normally not a red meat person, but this beef was so full of flavor and despite being shredded, wasn’t stringy in any sense. And I totally could have eaten about twenty more of those plantains.

Charlie chose the bistec palomilla, a pan-seared sirloin with caramelized onions, rice and beans, and more of those yummy plantains (definitely could get used to that as a side dish). Judging by the fact that he finished his entree and moved on to helping me with mine, I think it’s safe to say he approved.

Dessert, though. Dessert was the crowning glory. I mean, just look at it:

The ultimate end to dinner: tres leches cake. And oh did it live up to its name. The cake was saturated, but in the best way–it was moist and full of that creamy milk flavor that makes this dessert so decadent.

I blame this cake for the fact that I did not need to eat another meal until nearly 24 hours later. Not lying.

Soul de Cuba
238 Crown St.
New Haven, CT

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