Something Nuevo at Yuca

Yuca

With some trepidation we ordered the "Babylon tower," a salad. Green salads as North Americans know them (leaf lettuce, light vinaigrette) were virtually unknown in Cuba pre-1960, and in most traditional Miami Cuban restaurants, iceberg lettuce and unripe supermarket-quality tomatoes with sweet, orange, creamy "French" dressing is still as good as it gets. "Please no mesclun! My mama will be there!" a Yuca friend shrieked in mock horror, as we planned a Cuban potluck dinner my first Thanksgiving in Miami. "When I was growing up, a salad was mayonnaise-coated cooked vegetables. A 'green salad' meant one of the vegetables was canned asparagus."

Actually one of the tower's key veggie ingredients was indeed cooked, but fabulous: fresh hearts of palm. Steamed for just a few minutes to render the hard sabal palmetto core tender but still delightfully crunchy, these chilled fresh hearts bore about as much resemblance to the familiar canned kind as fresh asparagus do to their mushy canned counterparts. A coconut-date vinaigrette was surprisingly subtle, neither too sweet nor too heavy; even the sugar-hater and the coconutphobe at the table found the taste balanced. And while the $11.95 price seemed high for a dish that included no fish, meat, or similar high-end raw ingredients, the mountain of baby lettuce, watercress, endive, and avocado accompanying the palm hearts was ample for two or three.

So was the one dessert my table managed, a key lime napoleon ($8.50), much lighter than standard key lime pie but nevertheless a formidable arrangement. Drizzled and garnished with tropical fruit emulsions, chocolate, and most every other dessert substance known to humankind, the napoleon was richer and not quite as refreshingly tart as, say, Susan Ferry's similar key lime natilla at the Marquesa in Key West, but was still a festive end to the meal.

On again, off again Yuca is on top again
Steve Satterwhite
On again, off again Yuca is on top again

Location Info

Map

Yuca

501 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: South Beach

Details

Open daily noon to 3:00 p.m. for lunch, 6:00 p.m. to midnight for dinner (till 11:00 p.m. on Sundays).
501 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; 305-532-9822.

Although many patrons seemed to be drinking various exotic cocktails, Yuca's wine list is worth mentioning; it's limited, but with a few great selections at great prices. Our Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc, only $25, was plenty complex enough to stand up to Latin spicing, as well as the heat from the Latin band upstairs that began playing as we finished dining and started dancing.

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