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Review: Puerto Rico: small caribbean island that's actually an American commonwealth. Puerto Ricans vote every so often about becoming a state, but they never pull the trigger. No matter, their food is a mix of Spanish and caribbean influences and just plain tastes good. A Puerto Rican woman once made me coconut flan for which I still long fortnightly. Thus, it was with serious anticipation I tried Adobos Caribbean Grill.
First, I ordered the pan con ajo (bread with garlic).
The bread was pressed Cuban, brushed with olive oil, salt, and garlic. Every good European or European influenced cuisine has a dish like this. For example, in Italy, crostini are browned, rubbed with raw garlic, then doused in olive oil and salt. The pressed bread used in pan con ajo is a fluffy white bread pressed to become more dense, which is good since plain fluffy white bread is all air and no substance. Ultimately, though, you can only dress up fluffy, non-distinct white bread so much because it will always taste like non-distinct bread with some stuff on it.
Next up was the mofongo, which is a dish of, essentially, smashed plantains and a protein. In this case, I ordered the carne frita.
The carne in the carne frita is fried pork sirloin. It was served with onions and bells peppers and smothered in a heavily spiced (not as in spicy, but as in lots of spices) tomato sauce. As you can see, the plantains served as an edible bowl for the pork. Now, I dig me some plantains, and these didn't disappoint. They were crunchy and stiff (in a good way), and had just a hint of sweetness to them. The pork was very well cooked, crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside. So far, so good.
And then there was the cilantro mojo, which I'm assuming (out of complete ignorance) is the tomato sauce. It included cilantro, and some oregano, lots of other flavors, and lots of not-really-cooked tomato sauce. In fact, the sauce was in that no man's land between uncooked-and-therefore-light-and-acidic sauce and not-cooked-enough-to-develop-deep-flavors sauce. Man, how I wanted to like it because I dug the rest of the mofongo, but I just couldn't. This element really brought down the dish for me because it was ubiquitous and overpowering.
Honestly, I think I ended up ordering something I just didn't like. I could see the deft hand of someone who knew how to prepare darn good food, but that mojo, man. I'll be back, and I think when I order the arroz con pollo or another mofongo, my rating will likely improve.
Rating: 5/10 (5/10 is average).