Varadero’s Cuban Grill: Sol y ArenasJanuary 11th, 2010 by Bernie Dun
Last Tuesday, we were the first on the reservation list. With warm rolls and a formal table setting meeting us as we sat down, Anaisy and Roly were attentive and polite. Perhaps it was just that the three of us were the first guests. But as the restaurant filled and became noisy and crowded, they were just as polished and attentive as any server in a well-appointed Toronto eatery. We knew we were in for a treat when the appetizers arrived.
Using only aged Cuban meats and fresh vegetables and fruits, the tropical chicken salad on a pineapple created a moist and tender sensation for one of us. The spinach salad for the vegan in the group was tangy and firm. My Fish Perlan (a white fish) was lightly deep fried and fortified with a slight lemon taste. So far, so good!
Then the soup arrived. This is the acid test since most restaurant soups often are made with discarded bones and left-over vegetables. The Sol y Arena’s soups certainly had those elements. But the blend of quash, potato, pumpkin, and carrot with a slight pork flavour created an “oh my” response from me and one of my companions. The second soup was a creamy pumpkin that would delight the taste buds of any non-meat.
The house wine from the Cencibel (Tempranillo) grape came out of Spain’s La Mancha area. Anaisy told us that this area produces “classy” reds and is located in the arid plains stretching from Madrid to Valdepeñas. This complemented the main course of a vegetable medley for our vegan. My other companion feasted on a roasted chicken leg quarter, crispy French fries, and black beans and rice. My two white fish were lightly deep fried, almost Tempura-like. Each morsel crumbled easily to the taste. The Creole cream sauce was a fitting climax to this entrée.
As we waited for dessert, Roberto, the guitarist provided a light break from this stupendous munching by playing traditional Creole pieces. Desserts of Chocolate Dulcines and rice pudding were just too much after a meal of satisfaction. But, as we drank the La Indiana’s Pennyroyal and Chamomile teas from Menta Poleo and Manzanilla, Spain, we knew it was an evening well spent in Varadero, Cuba.
If you go, be sure to book reservations at the Public Relation desk of the Barcelo Solymar resort.