Friday, January 18, 2013

Ropa Vieja y Vaca Frita: La Plazuela del Bosque, Restaurante Cubano

La Plazuela del Bosque, Restaurante Cubano in Morelia Centro has been in business about 2 years. We have lunched there twice in the last six months. I hadn't much experience with Cuban cuisine, but each visit to La Plazuela has pleased us.

Last Wednesday, we went with a friend and learned that "The Cuban Place" is offering a special comida for $180 pesos per person. The meal starts with a mojito or a soft drink if you prefer, two entradas, at which the Cuban Place excels; two platillos fuertes, rolls, Moros y Cristianos" (black beans and rice), plátanos machos fritos, and a substantial and good dessert. The value-price ratio is outstanding. The owners, and Chef Paulina Coria have done an excellent job.

The dining room, in a restored Colonial building in the Calle Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz #16, just south of Calle Las Casas and two blocks from the Tarascan Fountain, is casual and has a warm, welcoming vibe. The rusting hulk of a Cuban Chevy sets the tone to put the guest at ease.

A Mojito is a nice start to a good meal at La Plazuela del Bosque. They are not too strong but fragrant with fresh mint leaves.

La Plazuela is especially strong in its entradas or appetizers. Here's a few that we had:

From top, clockwise: Ensalada de Naranja y Manzana, Empanada Gallega, Papa Rellena, Buñuelos de Bacalao, Frituras de Yuca
These are all good, but our favorites are the Papa Rellena (a ball of mashed potato filled with picadillo, breaded and fried), the bacalao fritters (you'll want to eat more of those) and the Yuca fritters, of mildly herbal smoothness. The fruit salad came as a surprise and was perfect to refresh the palate after the fried items. There's a small lettuce and tomato salad on each app plate, with a delicious, mysteriously herbal dressing.

I was amazed at how many platillos fuertes came to our table of three. These were not full sized portions, but neither were they minuscule. First came Moros y Cristianos (black beans and white rice, in separate dishes.); fried plátanos, and the rest of the items shown in the image below.

From top left, clockwise: Frijoles  Negros, Arroz Blanco, Masitas de Puerco, Pescado Camagüey, Vaca Frita, Ropa Vieja, Picadillo, Plátanos Fritos 
Our group's favorites  were the Ropa Vieja, shredded beef in a tomato sauce; Masitas de Puerco, delicious cubes of sautéed pork; the Pescado Camagüey was perfectly seasoned and superb; and Vaca Frita, similar to Ropa Vieja but unsauced.

Some close ups:

Ropa Vieja
Vaca Frita

We agreed that the Picadillo by itself was missable. It works very well in the context of the Papa Rellena but lacked verve by itself.

Plátanos Fritos
Opinion was divide on the beautiful, golden Plátanos Fritos. To me, they had an aroma reminiscent of a good, healthy equestrian exercise. Others didn't pick that up. While I didn't hate them, I've never been a fan of fried plantains.

Regrets that I didn't catch the Pescado for a photo.

Dessert was surprising. My companions chose Pastel de Chocolate, which was enjoyed, although I dislike the current practice of adorning chocolate deserts with squiggles of chocolate syrup. To me, it's like admitting that the chocolate of the cake is lacking and must be fortified.

The first time I tried Natillas, a creamy custard, I was hooked. The version at La Plazuela del Bosque is especially well done. It's a cross between a light Creme Brûlée and an upside down flan. The spun sugar garnish was a beautiful embellishment.

One of us finished with a Café Americano and I had a Café Express Cortado. Two aguas minerales and our total bill came to $661 pesos. A 10% service charge had been included. That is a practice I dislike, but I would tolerate at this restaurant, as the food and service outweigh any minor irritations.

The Ratings

Food: ****

Service: ****

Price: $$+

Ambience: Casual and relaxing

Restroom: Ample, well tended, clean

Parking: Private lot to one side.

Wifi: Free. Just ask for the clave.

Hours: Open for breakfast at 9:00 a.m.
Comida from 14:00 hours until 23:00 hours, M-Sa. Until 18:00 hours Sunday

Tel: 443-312-5049


jennifer rose said...

The salads at La Plazuela del Bosque are worth killing for. I just want to drink that vinaigrette. Be wary, folks, of trying to share an order of those bunuelos de bacalao with friends; there exists high potential for destruction of friendships over the last bunuelo. One category Don Cuevas doesn't mention in his reviews is ambience. This restaurant is comfortable, friendly, and every one of its staff makes patrons feel right at home. Thre breakfasts which begin at $60, are also a genuine bargain, and non-breakfast menu items are also available on Sunday mornings when Morgen the Perfect Doberman has to watch from her backseat perch in the car.

DonCuevas said...

Jennifer, I did mention ambience: "Ambience: Casual and relaxing"

And further up, "The dining room, in a restored Colonial building in the Calle Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz #16, just south of Calle Las Casas and two blocks from the Tarascan Fountain, is casual and has a warm, welcoming vibe. The rusting hulk of a Cuban Chevy sets the tone to put the guest at ease."

I did neglect to give you credit for introducing us to this gem of a restaurant.
You are getting it now. Thank you.

Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Wow, you mean we can go there without parking at Walmart and taking a taxi or driving around the block for half the day to park?
Even if the food is half what you say, it's worth a shot for us.....thanks for the info (Jennifer) need to listen to MadamMorelia more often.......
So the only question I have Sr, Cuevas, is did you go for the Mojito or not?

DonCuevas said...


I would never pass up a "free" drink. Of course I had the mojito. The previous visit, I ordered a second one. And that was before they offered the Paquete Cubano $180 peso special.

Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

This is my favorite eatery in Morelia. Everything is practically perfect -- especially the staff.

teresa freeburn said...

makes me want to fly off to mexico just to eat there. being cuban, i love all those dishes. i have a plantain i need to cook, not all that easy to come by in japan but a few places carry them. so you've never been a fan-have you ever had tostones? it's where the plantains are are cut about and inch thick, fried till golden, then mashed and fried again--they are so good!!! well, for now it's sushi, tempura and other japanese treats. had suki yaki when our kids visited two weeks ago-delicious!!!!!