This is for a series of posts related to Iron Chef Jose Garces including:
Amada, Distrito, Rosa Blanca, Bar Volver, Buena Onda, The Blue Anchor, PHS Pop Up Garden, JG Domestic, Tinto , Tinto , Tinto [Brunch], Village Whiskey, and The Olde Bar.
As the January 2015 RW comes upon us, another place to consider is Iron Chef Jose Garces' Rosa Blanca. I stopped by for one of the first RW's after its inception, looking forward to the Cuban comfort food offered by the venerable chef.
Despite the entire restaurant being open, I was relegated to the bar while I waited for the GF. Fine if it's busy, but when the entire restaurant is open? Meh.
The design is Miami 80's retro, with the wait staff dressed in white shirts and bow ties. Jukeboxes are on display at the booths, with Cuban music playing overhead.
The inside section of the restaurant is less of a Cuban diner and slightly more formal and elegant. It still speaks to a relaxed, cool vibe though.
Restaurant Week [$35 pp]
The RW menu at Rosa Blanca was essentially their a la carte menu. So I've provided the pricing for the dishes, though as expected RW dinner is $35 pp for 3 courses.
Guacamole Cubano [$8]
Smoked pineapple, chips
The GF decided to try the guac, which was a sweet iteration, with smoked pineapple. The plaintain chips were nicely fried, though the guac was such a tiny portion. Enough for three decent scoops.
Pulpo en Escabeche [$12]
Grilled marinated octopus
The pulpo was a better dish, highlighting tender octopus with great char. The escabeche marinade and sauce was on point, showcasing great acidity.
Ropa Vieja [$19]
Shredded brisket stew, rice, black beans
For the main, I went with the sweet and tender ropa vieja. A decent portion of starchy rice, delicious black beans, and shredded brisket was on offer here.
Grilled marinated skirt steak, fries
The GF's steak was tender and came out nicely medium-rare. It could have used more seasoning though. The matchstick fries were nice to round out this steak frites a la Cuba.
Yuca Frita [$3]
The yuca fries were great - crisp on the outside and creamy within. The accompanying aioli was a nice mix of ketchup, garlic, mayo, and lime.
Queso Frito [$4]
Do get the fried cheese - intensely buttery and highlighting duality in textures. This was crisp on the outside and tender within.
Tembleque de Coco
Coconut custard, yogurt streusel, mango sorbet
This custard-based dessert had nice texture as well. The creaminess of the coconut custard was balanced by sour crumbles of yogurt-brown-butter streusel and tart mango sorbet.
Pastel de Pina
Pineapple upside down cake, panela mousse, guava
Reminiscent of flan, this was sweet, with the essence of pineapple and guava throughout. Incredibly creamy and smooth.
Overall, RW at Rosa Blanca was decent, but I may have set my expectations too high. When compared to the Iron Chef's efforts at Tinto or JG Domestic, it was a bit lack-luster. Still, the strength of the octopus dish alone has me intrigued enough to come back. Pro tip: Always get the pulpo at any of Chef Garces' restos.