Friday, January 1, 2010

Versailles: Cuban Food

Sam flew into Long Beach Airport for a Christmas visit so Judy and I picked him up and headed to Westwood to pick up Andrew for an ethnic lunch. Before-hand, I checked on Yelp for a highly rated Cuban restaurant and decided on Versailles, located at 1415 S. La Cienega Blvd in West Los Angeles.

The majority of reviews focused on one menu item: garlic chicken, variously described as "comatose-inducing," the "skin was so nice and crispy...drenched in garlic butter sauce," the "NUMBER 6! That's all you have to remember...a massive half chicken smothered in Garlic sauce they call Mojo. Served with delicious white rice, plantains and black beans on the side. YOU HUNGRY YET? You freakin' should be!" Finally, "garlic chicken is do die for." Well, with a lead-in like that, we had to order two garlic chickens. My verdict: good, but not to die for. The chicken portion was huge, an entire half chicken. It did have nice crispy skin and the dark meat was wonderfully moist. There was some dryness in the breast meat, but the juicy sauce covered up that problem. What I didn't like was the sauce. I'm a major garlic fan, but something about the sauce got to me. It was way too tart for me, I think too much lemon in it. It also didn't sit well in my stomach.

I think if I had gotten another chicken dish, such as chicken with rice, I would have liked it more, because the chicken was excellent. I love onions as well, but I like them cooked more than these were. They were still crisp. I ordered a side of fried onions (you can see in the background) and they were much better, but still too crispy. The fried plaintains were the best fried bananas I've ever had and perhaps if I'd mixed the bananas, rice, beans and chicken altogether in one bite consistently I'd have liked it more, but I didn't.

The next menu item that seemed to place a distant favorite on the reviews was lechon asado, roast pork. Andrew got it and was not particularly fond of it. It was tender, but not as flavorful as pulled pork at a good Memphis barbeque joint. So, there again, it was good, but not great.

Judy got ox tail, recommended by a couple of people, and finally, we found something that was really excellent. It was moist, juicy and had wonderful flavor. I would gladly have given up the other food to concentrate on it.

I had some oxtail soup in Grenada, Italy, but have never had just plain ox tails. I would go back again for it. A closer look at one piece of ox tail.

I think the restaurant is wonderful. It had great service. There were many other menu items I would like to try, particulary the lamb, which is one of my favorite meats. We did have several mango milkshakes and they were good.

So, I would love to go again, but it would be to venture out on other parts of the menu, and with a group, would definitely include ox tail in the grouping again.

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