Tuesday, September 4, 2012


If I just want Cuban food, I can go to any number of restaurants in my neighborhood.  Many of these restaurants are also very good but I also like to see what else is out there and how different restaurants compare.  I went to Coobah recently which despite the name, is not specifically a Cuban restaurant.  While it does serve some Cuban-style food, it also does general Caribbean, Brazilian, and surprisingly, Filipino.  Located in Lakeview on the outskirts of Wrigleyville, I expected something pretty casual and it is in a manner of speaking.  It has a nice patio where you can relax in the sun.  The inside of the restaurant is done in weathered wood which did look nice but I was interested in the patio so that is where I sat.  The wait staff was friendly and pretty easy going, and the dress of most patrons there was pretty casual, but the presentation of the food was very definitely fine dining.  For my appetizer, I ordered seared scallops which came with fried plantains, fried yuca, guacamole, balsamic vinegar, and I think, some honey.  The presentation was very nice and it tasted really good.  The scallop had a nice sear and the yuca was crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  The sweetness of the plantains went well with the sweetness of the scallops.  Between the taste and presentation, it was a nice start.

My next piece of food art was called Pork Bicol.  What it was was Pork Tenderloin and Crispy Pork Belly, a Coconut Arancini (a fried coconut risotto ball), Pineapple-Bacon Chutney, Wilted Arugula, and Adobo Glaze.  The tenderloin and pork belly were cut in about equal size pieces but it was pretty easy to tell them apart by appearance.  The pork belly was rectangular and you could see the meat and fat layering  as you would in bacon.  While it was crispy, it was crispy to the point of being pretty dry.  This was probably the only fault in the dish.  The pineapple-bacon chutney was very good, the coconut arancini sounded a little weird but it was really good.  The outside was crisp, the risotto interior was creamy, and the coconut was sweet.  The arugula had a nice flavor to it and the adobo glaze was spread over everything and added a nice spice.

I then came to dessert.  I will admit there are a few things on a restaurant menu that I have a bias for and if I see them on a menu, I will be sure to order them.  One of these things is a cheesecake and the cheesecake on the menu sounded especially good so that is what I ordered.  When it came out, I knew that I had chosen correctly.  What I had was a Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Salted Caramel, Filipino Sea Salt, and a Sliced Strawberry.  The cheesecake was dense and covered with dulce de leche and the flatbread that was stuck into the cake was light, crispy, and light layer of flaky salt.  It was all very good and it was gone quickly.

I liked my meal here even if there was a little bit of a juxtaposition between the look of the food and the feel of the restaurant.  Even with the very nice look of the food, this is a casual restaurant and it was fun.  If I want a nice casual restaurant with a Latin flavor, I know where I can go.

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