Had to go to Manhattan for a meeting on Monday and then walk ten blocks to do a TV hit, and in between the two was a Cuban place called Sophie’s, one of a chain of six in midtown and downtown Manhattan. It compares favorably to Versailles in Los Angeles, which (according to several of you) is itself a pretty good spot for Cuban food.
Sophie’s has a funny setup – the one I went to, on Lex between 40th and 41st, has a small seating area with table service, but also has a cafeteria-style line for people who want their food to go. I sat down and ordered one of their regular platters (as opposed to one of the four specials, which vary depending on the day of the week), the roast pork. Most of their platters include a meat and two sides for $8; I went with yellow rice and black beans, and then ordered a dish of maduros on the side for another $1.50. The pork had outstanding flavor and I got plenty of end meat, although the center was a little bit dry. The pork at Versailles came in a tart mojo sauce, which probably was the reason the meat there didn’t dry out in the middle. The yellow rice was … well, it was rice, but it was fresh rice, and didn’t have any hard or dried-out grains because it had been sitting for too long. The maduros weren’t hot, but were sweet and well-browned. They serve the fruit/dairy concoctions called batidas, but I was only willing to be so full before going on TV.
Also worth mentioning – the Mississippi Mud Pie from the Little Pie Company. It’s sort of like the darkest, richest brownie batter you’ve ever tasted, served in an Oreo cookie crust. A bit outrageous at $22 for an 8″ pie, but it is decadent and there’s no trace of milk chocolate (better known as “chocolate for people who don’t like chocolate” or “sissy chocolate”) anywhere in it.