If there’s one good piece of advice about dining in the greater Miami area, it’s “you can’t have too much Cuban food.” While previously dining on Cuban food twice this trip at Latin American Bayside Cafe and Puerto Sagua, I was still craving one of the classic Cuban dishes: Vaca Frita (literally “fried cow”, it’s a shredded twice-cooked flank steak heavily marinated with citrus and cooked to a crisp).
However, one of the better places for a good vaca frita is Versailles Cuban, on 8th Street (Calle Ocho) in Little Habana, which was, unfortunately, a bit of a haul from our hotel in Miami Beach. Luckily, TivoCommunity.com’s EddyJ (a genuine Cuban!) and Hot4Bo agreed that this was a great excuse for a mini-gathering, and EddyJ graciously offered to drive us to Versailles.
Versailles is definitely a visual treat to go to. It sports several expansive dining rooms with wall-to-wall mirrors, a walk-through kitchen where you can see them frying up the plantains, and a huge hive of activity as many dozens of diners eat their vaca frita, ropa vieja, arroz con pollo, and other Cuban treats.
As far as the food? I had to go for that Cuban classic, Vaca Frita. I was extremely happy with the results. The beef was tender yet well crisped, and nicely seasoned with citrus and onions. The rice was hearty and flavorful without being dense, and the plantains were perfectly fried, giving a nice sweet offset to the salty notes of the beef. All-in-all, one of the best Vaca Fritas I’ve had.
For desert, I was planning on having flan (indeed, I’ve been to Cuban restaurants where having flan for dessert was pretty much mandatory), but EddyJ managed to persuade me to order Tocino del Cielo instead of the normal flan. Tocino del cielo is basically flan caramel on steroids, having yet more egg yolks and sugar in the recipe (a typicall recipe for Tocino del cielo involves around 18 eggs whites and four cups of sugar). And, indeed, it was. It was a nice perfect custard body, very sweet, with a nice caramel on top. I’m not sure I’d want one of these more than one a month or so, but it was quite a good dessert, if excessive.
Overall, we really liked Versailles, and will definitely make it a point to try it out again next time we’re in Miami. If for no other reason, to buy something from the delectable pastry case in their bakery.