Meb Byrne

Banana Café & Piano Bar, Take 2

In cuban, dc, restaurant on June 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Returned to Banana Café last night with Pratik, my oh-so-fashionable yet gastronomically underexposed co-intern. The skies had cooperated all day, but by the time we got out of work at six, heavy clouds threatened rain. We made it to the restaurant just before it started pouring and (wisely) chose to sit inside. The décor is fun, with burnt orange and yellow walls. The numerous works of art on display are reminiscent of a very safe, commercialized Picasso.

I wanted to eat plantains again, but I could only find them on the menu in deep-fried form, which didn’t suit my mood. Instead, I chose camarones Andaluz: white rice molded into an upside-down bowl shape (as in Egypt); black beans on the side in their own little bowl; and shrimp, sautéed in a white wine sauce with scallions, peas, peppers & mushrooms. I licked the plate clean.

Pratik, vegetarian that he is, ordered spinach & mushroom chille relleno: a giant oblong plate of fried stuffed peppers, with cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, white rice, black beans, and ranchero sauce. I didn’t try any of his meal (very unlike me, I know.) Both dishes were nicely presented.

A note on appetizers at Banana Café: As in most Hispanic restaurants, complimentary tortilla chips and salsa flow freely throughout the meal. Banana Café’s tortilla chips are corn-based and basic, with little salt; the salsa is surprisingly sweet and tangy, with a zing in the aftertaste. On my initial visit, I topped my chips with vinegar and salt, which turned out to be a good combo.

Banana Café’s service redeemed itself this time around. Our server was attentive, polite and genteel; our food and check were brought promptly. I would have no qualms recommending this place.

Final thought: I will return at least once after my 21st birthday (June 20th!!!) to try the house’s mango margarita. The menu claims it’s the best in the city.


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