La Cubana (Ossington)
La Cubana has already established itself on Roncesvalles as a brunch-time favourite, but at its newer location on Ossington , things are slightly different. The Cuban luncheonette does not in fact, serve brunch, though there are occasional eggy features that should satisfy mid-morning cravings.
Co-owners and siblings Pablo and Corinna Mozo boast a wealth of combined restaurant-related expertise and each sticks to their strengths. Corinna, a skilled French-trained chef, revives the culinary traditions of their father's homeland, while Pablo, creative director and owner of acclaimed boutique design studio, Arcade Agency , implements the branding and design.
Like the original outpost, the interior is vibrant, fun, and casual. Teal subway tiles are accented with decorative Spanish colonial hacienda patterns and punctuated with hand-painted signage courtesy of Arcade.
Ordering takes place at the lunch counter and payment occurs upfront. Just seat yourself until your order is ready to be retrieved. There's no need to wait for the bill when you're all done and you can still have a beer in a proper glass.
The thin pressed Cubano sandwich ($10) is likely one of the best you'll find this far north of Havana. It's constructed with delicately sliced ham and sous vide pork shoulder, plus gruyere cheese, onions, pickles and chipotle mayo.
A pint ($7) or even just a half pint ($4) of the custom brewed Cuban style Pilsner from Junction Craft Brewing seems like the most appropriate accompaniment, though the non-alcoholic bevies like the raspberry lime rickey ($5) are equally enticing.
Aside from sandwiches, there's over-packed plates ($15) featuring guava glazed short ribs, slow roasted pork shoulder, or achiote roasted chicken served with with jalapeño-spiked red cabbage slaw, fried plantains, rice and beans.
I try the chicken and it's awesome; incredibly moist and rubbed with a red hued paste made of ground achiote seeds, butter and lemon.
On the side, there's yuca frita ($4), chunky golden cassava fried to a delicious crisp, almost caramelizing the starch of this tuberous root. A drizzle of garlic lime mojo complete the dish offsetting its delicate sweetness.
To finish, I'm all about the key lime bar with zesty curd over a graham cracker base. The presentation is so tame that the tart, bold flavours comes as a surprise.
While business is brisk upfront, it's a party in the back - or at least it could be. There's private dining room with the capacity for 30 to enjoy cocktails or special family-style events.
Photos by Jesse Milns