The waiters on both of our visits were poorly versed on the menu, and service was generally sloppy — menus not picked up, servers not knowing where to put plates down, the check not getting delivered or collected in timely fashion. Ordinarily, it might be suggested that more staff is needed, but employee names and positions are listed on the menu — all 45 of them, including a general manager and two front-of-house captains.

Pitchers of mojitos, Cuba libres, rum punch, and hand-blended grapefruit or watermelon daiquiris help lend a festive atmosphere to the room. I wanted to join in with a specialty "bloody Maria" cocktail smoked with chipotle, but they were out. "I'm not sure what we don't have — maybe it's the tequila," we were told. At least teetotalers are taken care of, with natural tropical fruit juices and nectars such as passion fruit, guava, and watermelon — as well as milk shakes.

Wine aficionados won't be disappointed either. Most selections on the modest list are from California, South America, and Spain and after generous markup range from $50 to $70. Included are a few familiar low-end labels such as Clos du Bois ($42) and high-end boutique picks such as Sea Smoke by Foxen, a California Pinot Noir ($162).

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

De Rodriguez Cuba on Ocean

101 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: South Beach

Details

Hotel Astor, 956 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-3763; drodriguezcuba.com. Dinner Sunday through Thursday 6 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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Food prices, incidentally, work like this: Most starters run $8 to $15, main courses are kept below $30, and desserts are $5 to $10.

Sorbets in flavors such as tamarind-vanilla and mango-ginger-lime represent the most sensible, scintillating finish to this hearty, fry-heavy Latino fare; plus they really are delicious. Yet if you're eager to try something that cannot be enjoyed elsewhere, or are dining with a guest you wish to impress, do what many folks do (with gentle prodding from the waiters) and order the chocolate cigar. The frozen bittersweet chocolate ganache stogy, one of Rodriguez's whimsical old tricks, comes coated in powdered cocoa and presented in a cigar box. These days, he has upped the ante by including a little puff of "chocolate smoke" that escapes the box when the titillated customer first opens it. A diverse collection of real cigars is also proffered.

There's a lot to like about D. Rodriguez Cuba, but the dining experience is decidedly uneven at this point. We hope the quality will rise in a manner similar to the chef's career.

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