Before this trip, I did a bit of homework: I contacted Christina who writes Pizza & Bagels, a blog which had several posts in the area I was staying, and asked for recommendations. After two nights of borderline average meals, it was time to use one of these recommendations/lifelines: Martino’s. (On that note, the posts so far has been sequential, i.e., they are what had night after night). While it was on my way back – after taking a small detour, that is, I wasn’t 100% sure of the driving instructions. Again, driving at 100 Km/H in an unknown area after 7:00 p.m. is somewhat challenging… But, after missing (once again) several exits I managed to find Martino’s, a Latin American (non-Mexican!) restaurant.
And, to be more specific, it was Cuban. If you see the exterior, it looks like fine dining but, upon opening the door, it felt more like somebody’s home. The table arrangement was somewhat odd: small tables on the side and two tables in the middle. Guess where I was seated???? In the dead middle with all the other customers (seated on the sides) looking at me every time I produced my dSLR!!! But, back to the food…
One of the funny things I do in Latin American restaurant is that I start speaking to them in English (if it is in Canada or the US) and, if I sense they speak Spanish, I will switch soon afterwards which usually cause funny reactions. What can I say, I am Chinese! In Martino’s case, I started asking some questions about the menu but, switch in between and made my order. My only concern was… What happened if they heard me wrong and ended up getting something else? I guess I was about to find out when I started with:
Sopa de Mondongo or tripe soup, a soup found in a lot of Latin American restaurants. Cooked for long periods of time to make the tripe tender, it also results in a slightly gelatinous broth. I am aware of some people thrown off by the smell it can produce but, prepare correctly, you can’t really notice that taste. Anyway, the soup here had a lot of pieces of tripe – more than what I thought it would. Also, it was really tender… One thing that could have been improved though was a bit more of seasoning in the soup but, still, as is, it is a good soup.
For my entree, I went for that quintessential somewhat stereotypical dish: pork. Here, we have pernil served with white rice, beans and plantain. The rice by itself is your usual rice but combined it is where it can be different. I am not sure how would be the best way to describe it other than thinking rice with a non-salty gravy mixed in… The plantain was tender and sweet, something you can expect from it. Oddly, the one part of the meal that disappointed slightly ended up being the pork itself. No, don’t get me wrong, it was good in its own ways; just that I have had better. The reason I found it disappointing was because I felt it watered down – as if they were mixing it with a variant of mojo or garlic sauce and it had a bit too much liquid in it and, as a result, the pork taste was dampened.
Since I was craving for good eats and the fact it was Latin American, it hit the spot. Considering there was a mix of ethnicity in the dining room makes me believe the food is good enough to attract almost everybody. As for myself, I did not come back because, well, there were other places I wished to visit, yet, had I had Latin American food cravings, I would have certainly gone back.