Monday, January 4, 2010

Versailles - Authentic Cuban Food With a French Name

Versailles - 3555 SW 8th Street, Miami FL 33135

Dan and I tried to go to Versailles Cuban restaurant on Christmas Eve but it was closed.  So for our last day in Florida, we made it there and enjoyed authentic Cuban food.  While the place is no frills, the food was excellent and worth coming back for.

Located in a Cuban section of Miami called Little Havana, Versailles is known for good and affordable Cuban food in a casual setting.  The restaurant's name is unusual, implying a French influence, however this is only seen in the exterior and interior decor but not in the food.  Pronounced "Ver-sah-yeh" not "Ver-sahy," Cuban touches are felt everywhere, from the native waitstaff to the traditional Cuban menu. 

The restaurant
itself is enormous with a spacious wrap-around dining area and a large back room, seating about 200-250 people.  It's very busy throughout the day, and we were surprised that even during the off-peak hours of 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. the place was packed.

We loved perusing through the hefty menu, boasting traditional specialties with both meat and seafood.  It was nice to see that they had various daily specials, which looked inviting.

Fried Combination Platter - Starting with this was absolutely delightful and indulgent, as the plate included a big portion of fried plantains, ham and cheese croquettes, meat and cheese turnovers, and my favorite, fried yuca.  The best part was the side of garlicky mojo sauce, which was a pleasure to dip into, especially with the fried yuca.  We loved it so much, that we asked for two extra helpings.

Plantain Soup - I've never had this soup before and neither have my dining companions so we decided to split it.  It was delicious, slightly creamy but not overly so with bits of cooked plantain as well as fried.  I also liked that it had small shreds of pork in it, making the broth a tad smoky and very flavorful.

The Classic Cuban Sampler - This was my main dish and it had a lot of goodness going on.  There were two kinds of meats, ground beef with olives and raisins as well as tender roast pork.  Out of those, I preferred the beef because it had more flavor and seasoning--the pork was a bit bland, but once dipped into the black beans it was better.  I had a whopping five side dishes on my plate, including white rice, sweet plantains, yuca, a croquette and a tamale.  All were great but my favorites were the sweet plantains and the tamale, which tasted like soft corn bread.  Once again, dipping these into the black beans enhanced their flavor.

Chicken Versailles - Dan's dish looked a little bit like mine, except that the primary component was chicken.  I had a bite and loved it - the skin was crispy and garlicky, marinated in mojo and the inside was tender and juicy.  The sides were similar to mine, including sweet plaintains and rice and beans.

Calle Ocho Special Sandwich - My mother-in-law Vicki ordered this hefty sandwich with ham, turkey, cheese and bacon on toasted Cuban bread and a side of plantain chips.  Although she liked it, it didn't surpass her expectations and she referred to it as "standard."

Dessert - Through reading various reviews, I knew we had to get dessert, particularly Versailles' signature Tres Leches cake.  We ordered that as well as a classic rice pudding.  Both were delicious but the tres leches cake hit it out of the park--our favorite part was the creamy and sticky meringue topping with a cherry on top.  The cake part was soft and moist and tasted slightly carameley--awesome and not too heavy.

Service and Cost:
Our servers were quick yet meticulous.  All were Spanish speakers but our waitress knew English pretty well, as opposed to the other waitstaff, who addressed us in Spanish.  I liked that our waters were refilled quickly and the silverware positioned straight on the napkin.  Dishes came out quickly, especially the appetizers--seems like they have things down pat.

Costs are very affordable, given the large portions.

Appetizers: $3.95-$10.75

Sandwiches: $1.25-$8.50
Chicken: $6.50-$11.95

Pork: $6.95-$14.95
Meat: $7.50-$17.45
Seafood:  $9.95-$23.95

3 Mmmms

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