After picking my parents up at the Ft. Lauderdale airport while heading down from Orlando to Miami, it was painfully clear that we needed food badly. Personally, I would've liked to hit up a Cuban market in Little Havana for some authentic Cubanos, but with a mini-van (I only rent, will never buy) full of kids and grandparents, we ended up at Versailles Restaurant instead. Yes, it's touristy and yes, it probably isn't the best Cuban food in Miami (despite its claims as the most famous Cuban restaurant), but it was a safe destination in terms of parking and food selection.
With respect to my aforementioned criteria, their large overflow parking lot came in handy and the wide array of dishes meant there was something for everyone. We were started off with a basket of Garlic Bread which was actually quite good. It was lightly toasted and airy with a good amount of garlic butter. We ordered some Mariquitas to start and after we'd finished them, it donned on us they forgot the mojo. Personally, I prefer my chips made from riper plantains (like the ones from Padrino's). These were thinly-sliced and more crispy than crunchy. Furthermore, they were not salted enough (or not at all). But I guess that was what the mojo was for... which we didn't have. Next up was the Cubano, which could've been toasted a bit more in my opinion. Not to say it wasn't good though as the bread was crisp and airy. There was a good amount of melted Swiss with flavorful roast pork, however, we found the ham rather salty.
Onto the mains, I had the Roast Beef Tongue in a light Espagnole sauce with arroz moros and sweet plantains. I found the tongue to be nicely tender with lots of flavor from the fat. The sauce added plenty of meaty flavor, but was a bit heavy on the salt. The same could be said about the rice as it was a bit too flavorful. I did like the just cooked texture though. Viv decided to try the Oxtail Stew braised with spices and red wine accompanied by white rice and sweet plantains. Naturally, the smaller pieces were more moist and gelatinous than the bigger ones. Yet, most of the meat was fork-tender. Once again, there was plenty of depth from the fat and sauce. And yup, it was pretty salty, especially with the addition of olives.
My mom predictably had the Braised Lamb Shank Jardiniere with oven-roasted vegetables, rosemary and red wine. It also came with white rice and sweet plantains. As illustrated in the picture, this was a huge portion consisting of 2 large lamb shanks. Other than a few chewy exterior parts, most of the lamb was tender and gelatinous. We could detect a faint red wine essence and plenty of sweetness. My dad had the only non-red meat dish being the Fish Filet with Shrimp in Creole Sauce (also served with white rice and sweet plantains). We found the both the fish and shrimp to be cooked beautifully. The fish was flaky while the shrimp had a meaty snap. The sauce exhibited sweet and tart notes as well as the dreaded saltiness. To be fair, when combined with the plain rice (as it should be), it wasn't too bad.
My son didn't want to participate in the Cuban food, so he went for his standby being the Grilled Cheese. Hey guess what? It was a grilled cheese made with processed cheese. Not gonna talk about it anymore... As for the Cuban food, it was pretty good with well-prepared proteins and ample portions. One thing that struck us like a Ryan Dempster fastball at A-Rod was the indifferent service. It wasn't bad per se, but it was colder than the air conditioning.
- Ample portions
- Well-prepared proteins
- Lots of choice and parking
- Frigid (but okay) service
- A bit too much salt