A lot of restaurants are all bark and no bite. They are full of too much hype and not enough flavor. From food trucks to hole in the walls to 5 star establishments, I'm here to answer the question on everyone's mind, "Is it really that good!" I am not an Iron Chef let alone a line cook. I'm just an ordinary girl who loves to eat extraordinary food.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Merengue Cafe and Bakery- Monrovia,CA

One night, I was craving Cuban food for dinner. Since my favorite little Cuban restaurant spot is quite a ways from where I live, I needed to find something closer. Porto’s was also closed, so that wasn’t an option either. I did remember that Merengue Café and Bakery was somewhat close by so we decided we would try it out. It is located in Monrovia, CA.

 Our order consisted of meat and cheese potato balls, cheese rolls, a medianoche sandwich, a Cuban sandwich combo, and a pan con lechon sandwich combo.

Their potato balls ($1.15)  are big. We tried the meat potato balls first. It’s is a mashed potato ball stuffed with seasoned ground beef. There wasn’t enough meat inside. The meat also had that sloppy joe taste. This was just OK for me. The cheese potato ball is a mashed potato ball with  melted, gooey, cheddar cheese inside.  I liked this. The cheese was still hot and melted. Although, I think the mashed potatoes in both potato balls needed a tad more salt. Both also needed to be fried a little more so the breadcrumbs on the outside could be a little more crispy.

The pan con lechon and Cuban sandwich combos ($6.95) came with a choice of salad or soup. For both, we chose the soup, which was clam chowder. I’m not sure if that is their regular soup option or if it changes daily. I didn’t have high expectations for the soup. It’s a Cuban café not a seafood restaurant, so I didn’t expect much. It wasn’t bad. There were a lot of clams, it was thick, and had good flavor. The sandwiches on the other hand, I wasn’t too fond of. The Pan con Lechon sandwich is Cuban bread filled with roasted pork marinated in a garlic oil sauce.  The bread was a little too toasted. The pork was tender but didn’t have much flavor. It needed to either be dipped in the garlic oil sauce, or have the sauce poured over it.

The Cuban sandwich was also disappointing. A Cuban sandwich is Cuban bread filled with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese and pickles. As with the other sandwich, the bread was too toasted. There wasn’t enough pork and too much ham. It didn’t have enough mustard or cheese. Basically, it tasted like a ham and pickle sandwich. A medianoche is a Cuban sandwich with sweet  bread. Their medianoche ($7.45)  had a same problem as the Cuban. There wasn’t enough pork, mustard or cheese. All three sandwiches were just too dry.

On to the cheese rolls ($1.15).. I knew from first sight that I shouldn’t order them. Against my first instinct, I did anyway. My instinct was on the money. They tasted a little stale. The sugar coating on the outside didn’t caramelize the outside of the pastry, it was as if the baker waited until last minute to sprinkle sugar on top. There wasn’t enough of the cheese filling and way too much puff pastry.

Overall, it was a bust. I left craving Porto’s. It just didn’t compare at all! Merengue is a little pricier and  quality of food wasn’t great. If you still want to eat here, Fridays are a little tough to find parking because of the Monrovia Fair/Farmers Market.

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