Table Talk: Cienfuegos


95 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009-6107
(212) 614-6818

Who doesn't like great (Latin) food and cool "scene-y" spots? Especially when they're top secret! To enter Cienfuegos, the new Cuban rum bar/restaurant that recently opened in NYC, you have to enter the secretive location through the back of the Carteles sandwich shop. (No, seriously.) Show your ID, hope that there's availability--as its first come first serve--and finally get escorted up the stairs to a place that resembles Candyland/ Barbieworld, only more chic.  

Everything that decorates this small-plate eatery has a meaning, and it feels as if this was someone’s home in Cuba years before, which was Ravi DeRossi's goal. It’s barricaded by a lovely white wrought iron gate showcasing 100 C’s for the name Cienfuegos (100 fires). Fun hues of greens and pinks saturate the wall and classic tufted white leather banquettes and chandeliers symbolize old-style Cuba.

The highlight of the joint is the rum punch, served in shiny silver punch bowls (with ladles).  You can choose one of more than 20 yummy flavors and the bowl size of your liking (depending on how much you drink). The menu isn’t large, but it's satisfying.  A must-have dish is the Chick Pea And Chorizo Hash with crispy poached egg ($12). Once you break into the poached egg, the yolk oozes through the chick pea mash that might otherwise be dry, giving it a moist consistency, and the bits chorizo gave the dish most of its spicy and savory flavor. 

Though the food at Cienfuego may not leave a lasting impression, the rum punch is definitely one to remember.