On this edition of World Food LA, say “Está volao” because we’re traveling to Cuba!!!!
After watching the movie CHEF this past week (2014, 4.4/5 stars), I was absolutely CRAVING a Cubano. Luckily, I found refuge for my hankering at Versailles Cuban Restaurant on Venice Blvd. in Culver City.
Fair warning, we rolled up to Versailles on the heels of watching a beautiful team Italy Euros win, and I may or may not have had a severe case of the drunchies after my own in-game battle with a case of Peroni. So… I pretty much tried the entire menu. But, I did it all for you, the loyal readers. You’re welcome.
Up first, we got Yucca Frita, or fried yucca. Yucca isn’t on many menus, so when I see it somewhere, I have to try it out. Yucca is a root of a cassava plant and when properly fried, tastes like a starchy, heavier potato wedge (but it’s actually a tad healthier). It has a crispy exterior and a bit tougher interior. It’s kinda like the IPA of french fries. But sooo, so delicious. And it came with a fantastic, light, garlic sauce.
Next was the Chicken Empanada. Honestly, the shell of the empanada was a bit tough and there are certainly better empanadas in LA. I wished it was lighter and a bit flakier, so unless this is how Cubans do their empanadas compared to the rest of Latin America, I’d say skip it.
Then, the Ejemplos “Sampler” Plate which included Ham Croquettes, Papa Rellenas (mashed potato balls stuffed with meat then fried), and s Pork Tamale. The tamale was very corn-y (but I like corn, so I actually didn’t mind it), and the pork inside was shredded and very juicy. The rest of the plate was just standard, fried, Cuban goodness.
Finally… the main attraction, the Cubano (Bolo ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard) with a side of fried sweet plantains (Maduros). The Cubano was everything my craving could’ve wanted. Just a buttery, cheesy, pork-y, panini-y trip to Havana. The mustard wasn’t overpowering, the ham wasn’t greasy or sloppy and the bread was perfectly golden and not over-pressed. The fried Maduros were phenomenal, and I actually wound up stealing a few from my friend’s plate when they weren’t looking.
And we finished off with the Tres Leches cake. Now, as a lover of milk and cake, Tres Leches ranks in my top 5 desserts. I’ve never met a Tres Leches I didn’t like, and this was no exception. Great, light cream on top and a sturdy, yet mushy build, this tres leches cake was a great send off to an absurdly satisfying meal.
My biggest peeve was that nowhere on the menu did it mention any alcohol… because I would’ve loved to try some Cuban beer. I wound up getting a Cuban pineapple soda (that contained 142% of your daily value of added sugar) which was fine. But, then it wasn’t until we left that we saw some delightful drinks being served to other patrons. And then, to top it off, we found out later that evening it was actually National Mojito Day (a very Cuban drink). I was pretty P’d off I didn’t get to indulge (but let’s be honest, at that point in the day, that was the last thing I needed).
Regardless, eating at Versailles was like a slice of eating in the streets of Havana. Wonderful music, wonderful atmosphere. The service was fantastic, and with a big Cuban smile. All I needed was a cigar.
VERSAILLES CUBAN RESTAURANT
10319 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034