You’ve probably heard me say this many times, but Detroit is currently offering some of the best food in the country. I don’t think the city gets enough credit for the high quality cuisine that is available. I’m fortunate enough to be a 45 minute drive on I-94 away from a culinary goldmine.
I had the privilege of visiting Vicente Cuban Cuisine in Detroit this past weekend. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to find a good Cuban joint, but when Cuban cuisine is done right, it is easily among my favorite foods. The combination of Spanish, Caribbean and even some African influences make for some incredible flavors that usually come in plentiful, sometimes even epic, portions. I have eaten at Cuban restaurants in Key West, FL, which boasts of having some of the best Cuban food outside of the island itself, and I have to say that Vicente tops those easily.
Vicente was opened up by a family who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1967. The decor and atmosphere is simple but perfect – not too overdone, like many bullshit ethnic restaurants, but not too simple, like many modern upscale restaurants. Vicente’s menu ranges from classic pressed Cuban sandwiches and home-style Cuban entrees to authentic Spanish entrees and tapas. Dine inexpensively or go all out and have Cuban or Valencian paellas. Unfortunately the paellas take 45 mins or I would have chosen that as my dinner.
We started out the meal with a pitcher of white Sangria. The waiter recommended the white over the red and I couldn’t thank him more. The white Sangria is the most delicious Sangria I have ever had. It is a sweet taste with peaches and apples with a cinnamon aftertaste that you can taste on your lips minutes after your drink. I honestly have never had anything like this, alcoholic or not. This stuff is legit. After two glasses we were both, as I like to call it, fuzzy faced.
For my starter, I couldn’t pass up on the lobster bisque. I can’t say more than this was rich and creamy with that great, subtle lobster flavor. No big chunks of lobster here, just brothy goodness.
It was rough actually choosing something for my main course. Everything on the menu was tempting. I ended up going with the Pato a la Naranja, which is a semi-boneless half duck which was roasted until golden brown. It was topped with a Grand Marnier orange sauce which was incredible. I could drink that sauce for breakfast every morning. The outside of the duck was crispy, and the inside was nice and juicy which is a change from a lot of tough duck I’ve had in the past.
Stephanie went with the Gratinado del Chef. This dish was by far the most interesting of the night. It contains shrimp, scallops, and mushrooms sauteed with shallots. It’s then Flambeed with Spanish brandy in a creamy tomato sauce and served in a puff pastry shell with sauteed vegetables and sweet plantains. When I saw it on the menu, the puff pastry scared me off, but it soaked up the sauce and went great with the fillings.
Rob went with the tapas menu, which turned out to be a good choice. On the left is the Tamal Cubano, which is a homemade Cuban corn tamale with bits of pork meat and topped with onions and garlic mojo, and I honestly can’t remember what the dish on the right is. Sorry to drop the ball on that one, but when you’re having a meal as good as this one you mess up a note every now and then. The Sangria could have played a part in that as well.
Lisa went with Comarones Crillos, which is Jumbo shrimp sauteed in olive oil, minced garlic, white wine, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and parsley flakes and served with white rice, sweet plantain, and avocado salad. I have a thing with shrimp, and it involves crying. Thankfully, Lisa took this picture because I was feeling a little emotional.