A taste of Cuba

Yazmin Cruz

The Versailles Sampler Plate ($16.95) with ham croquettes, stuffed and fried yucca served with garlic, and a pork tamale. Photo Credit: Yazmin Cruz/ Staff Reporter
The Versailles Sampler Plate ($16.95) with ham croquettes, stuffed fried yucca served with garlic, and a pork tamale. Photo Credit: Yazmin Cruz/ Staff Reporter

As the door opened, a sensual aroma of citrus and garlic called my name. We were welcomed by two gentleman dressed in typical Cuban shirts, Guayaveras, who lead us to our table. They were as authentically charismatic and welcoming as the food.

To start the evening, I ordered a Jupiña, an authentic pineapple soda, to quench my thirst. Sodas are not my favorite, but this one was fruity, lightly sweetened and tickled by tongue.

As an appetizer, the Versailles Sampler Plate ($16.95) gave us an opportunity to try the many tastes of Cuba. The dish came with ham croquettes, fried and stuffed yucca served with garlic, a pork tamale and fried chucks of pork.

The ham croquettes had a texture like mozzarella sticks, but were far superior in taste. They had a crunchy outside while the inside was soft. The fried yucca was one of my favorites. The flavor is similar to that of a fried potato, but the texture is a bit different. The yucca is more fibrous, but just as tasty.

The stuffed yucca was even more delectable. It looked like a small tamale and the aroma from the pork filling permeated through the yucca.

The fried chucks of pork tasted like Mexican carnitas. The meat was crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside and they were even better when combined with the complimentary warm buttered bread.

The Cuban tamale is not your typical tamale. This is a tamale with an attitude. The outside masa has the consistency of a Salvadorian tamale, but the inside adds a tangy kick to it. It is stuffed with pork marinated in Versailles’ famous garlic-citrus sauce.

Be forewarned. the sauce is divine but it is a total kiss-killer with its pungent garlic flavor. The sauce is used in almost all their popular dishes, which include Versailles Famous Garlic Chicken ($10.95) and Lechon Asado ($10.95).

I was not very fond of the combination of citrus and pork in the tamale and in the Cuban Style Roast Pork (Lechon Asado). The citrus at times overshadowed the delicate taste of the pork. However, the combination of garlic and citrus with chicken was finger-licking good.

Like most other entrees, Versailles’ Famous Garlic Chicken is served with white rice, black beans and fried plantain. The white rice had a delicate flavor while the beans were infused with the taste of flavorful herbs. The plantain was sweet and crispy.

Another popular Versailles dish is Ropa Vieja ($12.95), and it did not disappoint. Shredded beef with thin slices of bell pepper and onion were smothered in a tomato and wine sauce that enhanced the flavor of the white rice.

Versailles also has a variety of sandwiches but they are not your typical sandwiches. They are big enough that two people can share them. The chicken sandwich, El Sandwich de Pollo ($7.50), comes with a side of fries.

The thin grilled chicken breast was moist and was complimented by the fresh lettuce and tomato, and grilled onions.

Versailles does not have an extensive vegetarian menu. The two dishes they consider vegetarian include rice and beans, and fried plain. They do have salads but this is not the place you go to have a salad.

To end the meal, a Flan Cubano ($2.95), a custardy flan topped with guava and drizzled with a caramel sauce with a hint of cinnamon, was brought to the table. You must try the flan.

Cascos de Guayaba ($2.95), guava shells with cream cheese, is for those with a strong sweet tooth. The guava shells are drenched in syrup that when combined with the rich cream cheese becomes more palatable enough to taste.

At the time of our arrival to the Culver City location, the restaurant was not as full as I expected. The line, which I was warned about, began to form as we were leaving.

Because the food is not as expensive as other sit down restaurants, there tends to be a wait time to get in but once inside the food will be at the table in no time.

The Cuban music playing in the background and the wall full of black and white headshots of celebrities meshes into a casual yet boisterous ambiance that aims to welcome everyone from college students to native Cubans.

To enjoy a home cooked meal experience and a delectable taste of Cuba, head over to Versailles location near you.

10319 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 558-3168
Mon-Thu. 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.