My children and I visited on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch and were greeted by Ian Gutierrez who together with his father, Hector Gutierrez and his cousin, Howard Rodriguez run OYE Cuban Grill.
It was 2:30 pm and the restaurant was full of diners. OYE has outdoor and indoor seating but it was too hot to sit outside. Inside, it was buzzing with guests carrying on animated conversations. The ambience was cozy, sleek, intimate and loud all at the same time, the large screen TV’s mingling with the voices of the patrons who were obviously enjoying the food.
So now for the tasting…the first plate presented to us was an assortment of appetizers, a platter that was overflowing with tasty bites: Tostones Rellenos, Ham Croquetas and a bowl of Cuban Nachos in the center.
Tostones are crispy fried plantains, plantains being like a giant banana. In this version, the tostones were wrapped around different fillings. We tasted the ones filled with Picadillo (ground beef infused with a creole sauce), Ceviche (lime-cured white fish with red onions, red peppers & cilantro) and Ropa Vieja (shredded flank steak). All these little “cups” of tostones were topped with a cheese sauce made with a melted mixture of cheeses: Queso Blanco, American White and Mozzarella.
My initial impression of the cheese topping was that it tasted too salty. But when taking a whole bite, a piece of toston, the filling and the cheese sauce, the flavor was quite pleasant. I have never seen a presentation like this, quite innovative and fresh. Croquetas are croquettes that are usually small, lightly breaded and fried. These were massive and tasty, soft ham on the inside and crackling on the outside.
The surprise in the middle of the platter were the Cuban Nachos. Aren’t nachos a Mexican Dish, I asked myself? Well to our delight, this was a dipping bowl of picadillo covered with the homemade cheese sauce, creole sauce and diced sweet plantains. One uses “mariquitas” which are green fried plantain chips, instead of nachos as a vessel for the sauce. This is a dish that can throw you off-guard, in a good way, as this combination of ingredients may not seem to work at first glance, but they do.
Empanadas de Picadillo
They were sweet-smelling because of the simple sugar syrup that is brushed on the outside of the savory filling. This coating ensures that the empanadas are golden and crunchy.
My favorite dish, by far, was the Ropa Vieja: Braised Shredded Flank Steak sautéed in a traditional “Criollo” sauce. It was accompanied by “maduros” which are sliced and fried sweet plantains, and roasted veggies. The difference in the taste from the other Ropa Viejas is the absence of excessive fat found in the other versions, the unusual choice of veggies instead of the typical white rice and the extensive use of onions and other vegetables in the creole sauce.
We are visiting again for sure !
OYE Cuban Grill
11327 S Dixie Hwy
Miami, FL 33156