The type of cuisine the restaurant serves is Cuban, and being a fan of some other Cuban restaurants like Cuba Libre and Bongos Cuban Cafe, we thought we'd really enjoy this restaurant. An added bonus was that we didn't have to travel to Philly or Florida to get a taste of Cuba.
The restaurant itself is very cute. Originally a house, the bottom floor is now set up for a dining experience. Now that it is getting warmer out, the patio is open. It was a little chilly on Sunday, so we sat indoors. Casona is BYOB, but there is a small bar across from the hostess station - for coffee.
For those of you not familiar with how restaurant weeks work, there is a set menu made up of three or four courses, for a set price. At Casona, the menu was four courses for $35 per person. The regular menu was also available.
Course 1: Soup
Our choices here were either black bean soup or Mussels Cream Soup. I'm not a fan of mussels to begin with, and the thought of them in a soup did not appeal to me. In the end, all four of us ordered the black bean. The soup was delivered in crocks, and smelled strong of cumin. It tasted good, but had a little bit of a salty aftertaste. The amount of cumin was a perfect compliment to the beans.
Course 2: Appetizers
For appetizers, we had three choices - Guacamole Chamacuero, Chicken Empanadas, and Carpaccio de Venado (Venison). My husband and I decided we would both order something different and split it. This was the best way to taste more than just one. Since we were both torn between the Empanadas and the Guacamole, we went with those two. No one in our group ordered the venison, so I don't know how good or bad that was.
This was by far the most delicious course of the meal. The guacamole was creamy. The grapes gave it a sweet taste, balanced out by the hotness of the peppers. It came with plantain and tortilla chips for dipping. Both types of chips were expertly fried and crispy. There is nothing worse than a soggy chip, but we didn't have to worry about that here.
The empanadas were also delicious. They came with a spicy sauce that you could dip it in, they were so good on their own, we really didn't need it. The chicken was very tender, and the whole thing melted in your mouth. This item is on Casona's regular menu, and I highly recommend you get them if you're ever dining there.
Course 3: Entree
There were four choices in all for the main course. Three people at the table ordered the Bistec de Palomilla Empanizado - breaded fried top sirloin steak served with rice, maduros & cucumber tomatoes salad with garlic emulsion. I was the odd ball and ordered the Masitas de Puercos - fried little pork chunks with moro rice, tamale, avocado & maduros. Also available was Sauteed Cod and Cuban Rice with Shrimp.
I wasn't a huge fan of the pork or the steak. I'm not sure if this was because my hopes were so high after such a great appetizer, or I was full, but this was the course that disappointed me the most. I'm not a big fan of fried items, so this may have been my problem. The plantains and rice/black bean cake were really good though. To the restaurant's defense, our waiter told us these items were brand new to their menu, and we went on the first night they were rolling it out.
Course 4: Dessert
The dessert served was a perfect end to the meal. The Tres Leches was absolutely divine. Everyone at the table finished the entire dessert, even though most of us decided we were pretty full after Course 3. As described by our waiter, Tres Leches is a white cake, soaked in three different kinds of milk, then topped with whipped cream and caramel. He should have just said it was heaven, because I don't think I've ever had a dessert so good.
All in all, the meal was great, with a few low points that could be overlooked due to lack of experience cooking the dish.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Casona of Collingswood
563 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108
If you live near Collingswood and want to know more about another area restaurant, see my review of The Tortilla Press.
For another review of this restaurant, visit Me and the Blue Skies.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to dine at Casona, nor was I compensated for this review. The review above reflects my honest opinion of the restaurant and its food.