Friday night my two sisters and I went to Victor's cafe, a popular Cuban restaurant in midtown. I knew this as a tourist spot, with decent food. And that is exactly what I encountered on this visit.
It was very crowded and very loud, which made for a festive atmosphere, but you did need to talk loudly to your dining companions in order to be heard. We all shared the empanada filled with lobster, served with sweet Cachucha pepper pesto. Although this savory turnover was tasty, it was cold in the middle, and needed to be baked a little longer.
For an entree I ordered the Filet Mignon Criollo, which is a prime beef tenderloin marinated with Cuban adobo and served with fire-roasted peppers, onions and sweet plantains. The meat was perfectly cooked and tender, but I found the dish quite boring and would have enjoyed some sort of sauce, or anything to liven it up a bit. The peppers and onions just made the dish more dull, and the sweet plantains were non-existent.
My younger sister fared much better with a great red snapper dish, which was cloaked in a crunchy green plantain crust, and served with Cuban sofrito sauce and Afro-Cuban plantain mash. This was a great dish. The snapper was crunchy and flavorful, and everything on the plate worked well and balanced each other beautifully. It was also very colorful to look at.
My older sister went with the Paella, brimming with an assortment of lobster, mussels, clams, shrimp, and meats. Although the dish didn't amaze me, it was fine, but I did feel it could have used some more spice, for it was slightly bland.
Also, all dishes (except rice dishes) came with white rice and black beans, which I enjoyed. The black beans had the perfect balance of saltiness to them.
For dessert we tried the Bonbon Cubano, molten chocolate lava cake served with coconut ice cream. This dessert was fine, although it was hard to love, cause all I could do was fantasize about that chocolate molten cake I had eaten the previous week at Oga Japanese Tapas.
So, if you are looking for Cuban fare before a show in a Times Square theater, that sometimes hits, but sometimes misses, Victor's Cafe is a fine choice, considering there is not much competition in the area. .
236 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019