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The Cuban Sandwich

Sunday 20 May, 2018
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The Cuban Sandwich- Melbourne- 2.5 Stars

"It's a recipe passed down from my grandmother."
"Oh, WOW! That's so cool!"
"Not really, she was a lousy cook."

I have been coming to The Cuban Sandwich in Melbourne at least once a year for over 15 years. I am not sure what has happened in the intervening months since I last crossed the threshold of this formerly dynamic grind-house.
I had to work very, very hard to keep my abradant personality in check.
I arrived at high noon, opened the door, and a tumbleweed blew by. It reminded me of the bar entry scene in From Dusk Till Dawn--sans the customers. I know the owner of this place to be a dynamic and gregarious person. At least I assume he is still the owner. As the counter person adeptly avoided my gaze I contemplated my next move. I positioned myself to be seen unobstructed, which was easy to do since I was the only person there at lunchtime on a weekday. I cleared my throat and the counter man slowly lifted his dark long curly black-haired head and said in his best Tony Montana imitation, "What choo want?" I half expected him to call me a cock-a-roach but he left that part out.
I ordered the eponymously named Cuban Sandwich with red beans and rice. This restaurant was the first mainstay in Brevard County to serve authentic Cuban fare. In the past I have delightfully immersed myself in the flavorful, well executed presentation of yore. The 2.5 stars I give this restaurant is really based on my many past positive experiences. This visit I wound up with a Cuban cheesesteak style sammy lacking in flavor and freshness. It tasted like the meat had been prepared two weeks ago and frozen then reheated for the day's as yet to be seen crush. The red beans and rice were lacking of all flavor. The beans themselves were hard and difficult to chew. Not sure if this was an off day or the new norm for this longstanding establishment. What I CAN tell you unequivocally is that there are better Cuban sandwiches elsewhere in Brevard. Big Boy says you may get lucky and catch one at The Cuban Sandwich on a good day. But you might want to hedge your bets and instead head to Palm Bay for the real deal.