Meb Byrne

Banana Café & Piano Bar

In cuban, dc, restaurant on June 1, 2009 at 10:03 pm

DC is like NYC in that they both have a city feel, but NYC has shops on the street and a loud, vibrant culture, while DC is much more austere and full of suits. Still, a few DC neighborhoods retain their character. Dupont Circle, I’ve heard, is one. Chinatown is another. The neighborhood surrounding the Eastern Market metro stop is my latest find.

Courtney and I dined at Banana Café & Piano Bar, located at 500 8th Street, SE. The Café, with its brightly painted walls and buzzing atmosphere, is tough to miss. The menu is descriptive and extensive, featuring both Cuban standards and their Americanized variations. Courtney introduced me to plaintains in her plaintain soup- I swear I must have eaten them before, but I’d forgotten the experience. Reaction: must find more plantains immediately. 🙂

I stuck with the standards and ordered a tropical salad with shrimp, scallops and squid. The dish’s excessive lettuce was compensated for by tender and tasty seafood in a tangy sauce. (Oo, alliteration.) The palm hearts framing the plate were a standout, while the tomatoes doing the same thing could have been left out.

The service was disappointing, always either too attentive or too lax. (My salad originally arrived sans seafood and the check took ages, but our water glasses were kept full and our waiter practically pounced on us to ask how we liked the food.) Regardless, the atmosphere reminded me of my beloved New York, and the outdoor seating can’t be beat. I’ll definitely be back.

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