South Florida is full of little mom and pop shops churning out authentic, homemade Latin fare. You want Cuban ropa vieja? Done. Peruvian ceviche? We've got it. Brazilian feijoada? No problem.
South Floridians might be used to traditional latin cuisine, but that is not the goal of Cleveland-based Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar. According to Executive Chef Orlando Arroyo, "We're not about doing authentic latin food. We take our own twists. We do latin food for American palates. Like our ropa vieja, authentic Cuban ropa vieja is normally done with the butt, which is tough piece of meat. Here, we do it with skirt steak and we add Peruvian aji amarillos for flavor."
Arroyo, who is of Mexican descent, left Season's 52 in New Jersey to take over the kitchen of Paladar. Within the next few months, he hopes to bring out some of his own specials and work toward doing food and rum pairings. "I have a million ideas for new things," he says.
At the moment, the restaurant offers a wide array of cocktails and rum drinks. The menu has over 50 varieties of rum. Four rum flights are available including spectrum ($13.95) with Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year, Appleton Estate V/X, and Pyrat XO Reserve 15 Year; spiced ($12.95) including Kraken Black Spiced, Captain Morgan Private Stock, and Chairman's Reserve Spice; aged ($14.95) with Chairman's Reserve 5 Year, El Dorado 12 Year, Ron Atlantico Private Cask 27 Year, and super aged ($16.95) including Ron Atlantico Private Cask 25 Year, Ron Zacapa Centenario Grand Reserve 23 Year, and Mount Gay Extra Old.
Since opening, the restaurant has not been too busy. The managers wanted to give the kitchen and front of house staff time to settle in. They are expecting better crowds this weekend, as racing commences this Saturday.
The food may not be the authentic fare we've come to appreciate as residents of North Latin America, but we can see how it would appease the average American palate. And, honestly, you can never go wrong with rum.