Friday, April 9, 2010
Montclair is a sweet little town with lots of restaurants and shops. One person once described Monclair as a little Hoboken. Although there weren't nearly as many bars as Hoboken, there were a bunch of restaurants. Stef and I parked by the Wellmont theater and walked the streets of Montclair with no particular destination. We walked about a few restaurants that we considered, but ended up at Cuban Pete's.
Cuban Pete's was one of the first restaurants we walked by and checked out the menu. I've heard good things about Cuban Pete's so we wanted to check it out. You have to walk through the whole restaurant in order to get the the tiny host stand. Once you get to the small stand in the back of the restaurant, you have to dodge servers hustling from the kitchen with multiple plates in hand. We looked at the menu, which looked awesome but we decided to walk around a little more for another, less crowded spot.
We continued to walk around town in search of a restaurant that both Stef and I were happy with. We tried to find a place with outdoor seating, but our attempt fell short. We walked by this Greek restaurant that had outdoor seating, but there was not one person in the whole restaurant.
As I mentioned earlier, we ended back at Cuban Pete's. We wanted to sit in the semi-outdoor space alongside the wooden boardwalk entrance. Instead we were seated in the loudest room in the house. The Cuban music blasting brought the restaurant to life, but it was just a little bit too loud. I felt the noise level was appropriate for a Cuban lounge and not a restaurant. I think the restaurant would have been good for a group of people celebrating, like the rowdy table next to us, but as for a nice dinner--not too sure.
The hostess zig-zagged through the tables while taking us to our table which was switched from a four top to a two top at the last minute. We were seated before the tableware was even down. The table was even still damp from the towel used to wipe it down.
The server wasn't as attentive as one would hope for when dining out. The server greeting was late, our water was often empty, and we waited around a half hour just to get our check. Normally I don't mind hanging out at a restaurant waiting for the check, but this was getting out of control. I guess I was eager to get out of the noisey room and actually have a conversation with my date. I don't think it was the server's fault for his lack of attentiveness, I think it was the restaurants fault for giving him too many tables. Half the time we were looking for our server, he was playing the tambourine in Cuban Pete's happy birthday skit.
On a good note, the food was pretty good. I got the skirt steak with pineapple served with coconut rice and yams. The skirt steak and coconut rice was delicious. The serving size was good although the skirt steak could have been a little bigger--but that's just me LOVING steak.
Stef got a chicken dish with black beans, rice, and plantains. Her chicken was good, although I liked my meal a lot better. She enjoyed her rice and beans, but seemed to really enjoy the plantains. I tried the plantains and they were good.
Cuban Pete's scores high on food, portion size, ambiance, and its price point. I think the place had good value, especially because it was BYOB. I would have enjoyed the place a lot more if the music was a bit lower OR we were seated in a less loud area. The table spacing could have given guests a little more room, but not a big deal. The decor was incredible! You felt like you were in Cuba. I've never been to Cuba, but it felt right. The servers looked and played the part. They wore authentic cuban attire including the Cuban straw hat which I thought was great.
I would probably go back....