After attending a friend’s going away party here a few weeks ago, we talked it up to my in-laws as a solid place for a Friday night, mostly because we know they both appreciate restaurants that…
a) are at basement-level
b) have an exciting drink menu, and
c) have classic brick walls
We are a superficial bunch.
So despite knowing that Casta’s had a small food menu, I still booked a reservation for everyone.
“Did this used to be a dungeon?” my father-in-law asked the hostess. “This feels like the dungeon.” In his mind, this is a compliment. The hostess smiled and chuckled the way she’s getting paid to do.
It was last call for happy hour when we arrived, so everyone ordered a cocktail.
Back left: my mother-in-law’s mojito. She loved it and chewed the sugar cane down to a nub like a rabbit. This can’t be healthy.
Back middle: my gran reserva dark and stormy. No, it’s not just the lighting. This drink was neither dark nor stormy. Light and sunny? Is that what they call a drink that’s just ginger beer? Not even good ginger beer. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t even a cocktail. I thought about sending it back for another shot of rum, but my husband talked me out of it, and then I just didn’t drink it. I don’t need to drink mediocre soda if it won’t even give me a buzz.
Back right: my husband’s El Presidente. Basically an old fashioned with rum instead of bourbon. It was the only cocktail that had the flavor of alcohol.
Front: my father-in-law’s Canchanchara. It’s fine, but bland. He described it as sugar water. We all agreed that this was not a very good cocktail bar.
Now, I know that this is a Cuban place, so pork and sandwiches shouldn’t surprise us. Fine. But like…could there have been something on the menu that wasn’t a ham sandwich? Like…ham-not-on-a-sandwich? Sandwich-without-ham? Anyone?
Between five of us, we had four different varieties of ham sandwich: classic Cubano, medianoche, croqueta, and pan con lechon. So the pan con lechon was a little different and dripping with mayo. And the bread on the medianoche was soft and slightly sweet. And the shredded pork was definitely solid. That’s it. My husband complained that the croqueta sandwich was super dry and he hated the bread. They could definitely have used a greater proportion of pickles and mustard. We all agreed that this was not a very good place for sandwiches.
“Okay,” I said. “So, it’s not a good cocktail bar. And it’s not a good restaurant. So what is it?”
Everyone stopped and thought. “Ambiance?” my FIL said.
Here are some pictures of ham sandwiches:
You can’t even tell the difference, can you?
Price: $25 per person.
Bottom line: Ambiance doesn’t get you drunk or fill up your belly. Gracias, y que vaya el siguiente, por favor (Thank u, next).