Cuban Cafe La Tinaja- Cocoa, Fl- 1.0-Stars
Located in the Cocoa Commercial Center a few doors down from a vet's office and next to a barber shop sits Cuban Cafe La Tinaja. They claim on their Face Book page to have "ten years of experience." They fail to say in what. After dining here, I am going to go out a limb and say it's not in serving good food. I won't hazard to guess what it is in, but I will say again, it's not in serving good food. It looks quaint enough to pass for a Cafe in Cuba (I surmise, never having been there myself) resplendent with obligatory Spanish words written on the walls and a Cuban flair to the decor. They have ample seating inside as well as patio seating outside for a more relaxed dining experience. Or to take your attention away from the slop that passes for food here.
So, enough with the hints and to the meat of the matter. I was greeted warmly enough and shown a lovely table in the back and awaited my server. Reading the menu, I was intrigued. I mean, it certainly read well. Including such offerings as Bistec de Palomilla, the famed Sandwich Cubano, daily specials and the ever-present South American\Latin influenced meal staple...frijoles negro (black beans). If my Latin friends have taught me anything about places that serve this type of food, it's that you can bet your sweet bippy the cuisine as a whole can be measured by the beans. Fact. It wasn't all that long before a server approached and introduced himself as Rio and asked me if I was ready to order. I placed an order for the previously mentioned Cuban traditional steak, Bistec de Palomilla along with a side of Tostones Mayas (plantain chips) and Congris (a mix of rice and black beans).
Awaiting my foodstuffs, I once again turned my attention to the decor and was quite taken in. This place certainly had a warm Cuban vibe going on. It was then I was brought my serving of complimentary bread and butter to snack on while awaiting the meal. The Cuban bread was full of flavor, fresh and warm like the first day of Summer. Rio returned anon with my foodstuffs and I began to go to work. Starting with the Bistec de Palomilla was my first mistake. Or maybe it was just in ordering it. That I don't know. What I do know is that the steak itself was of such low quality as to be a few steps up from shoe leather. It was tough, dry and lacked any and all flavor. For a traditional Cuban steak, this was missing Cuban herbs, it was missing Cuban spices...or any mix of herbs and spices for that matter.
Moving on to the second item to be reviewed, the Tostones Mayas was a good idea and didn't come fast enough. What the Bistec de Palomilla lacked in presenting any pizzazz to the palate, these gloriously fried Plantain chips more than covered the spread. I found them to be exceedingly flavorful and deep fried to a sublime state of edibleness not encountered enough in my eating excursions.
Lastly, we come to the order of Congris. As mentioned before, Congris is a mix of rice and beans. Black beans. Frijoles Negro. The measuring stick of all measuring sticks in a Latin type eatery (queue suspenseful music). What can I say about Cafe Cuban La Tinaja's offering of this Island country staple? Well, it was cooked properly. The rice was just right and the beans were perfectly done between mushy and raw. In other words, they were cooked to perfection. Sadly, that is all I can say about it. Like its menu mate the Bistec de Palomilla, this too, lacked any and all flavoring. I just as easily could have been eating a mixture of flour and water or drinking a glass of water, it had that little seasoning actually zero, zip, nada.
While I wouldn't put this place in the "Swill" category, it certainly deserves the penultimate spot on my list of places to avoid.
The Big Boy says, "If fresh Cuban bread is what you are in the mood for, this is the place. For anything else? Skip it!" #iamthebigboy #bigboy