A Night at the Chef’s Table at Cuba Libre in Atlantic City

When I was a poor college student in Philadelphia, I always wanted to visit Cuba Libre. So when I got the opportunity to visit their Atlantic City location, I jumped at the chance!

Located inside the Tropicana Hotel Cuba Libre is an upscale Cuban restaurant that will make you feel like you’re in Old Havana.

New to the restaurant is the “open-fuego” kitchen, a wood fired grill where the chefs openly prepare seared meats and seafood and wood-fired vegetables. The new grill allows them to prepare their food in the most authentically Cuban way, a la parrilla.

Not only did we get to experience new menu items that feature the use of their new grill, we got to sit at the chef’s table with Cuba Libre’s Senior Executive Chef Kevin Couch and two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot.

We stated our meal with cocktails! I enjoyed a pineapple mojito, which contained fruit that was actually grilled on their new grill:

Pineapple mojitos at @cubalibrerestaurant! Cheers! 🔥 🍍 #njisntboring #atlanticcity #atlanticcitynj @tropicanaac #southjersey

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The also have a watermelon mojito, and a white sangria that will knock your socks off.

We were lucky enough to sample new items off their menu including their seasonal fire-roasted vegetables for two (also FYI, their bread is so die for).

as well as their Octopus a la Parrilla (truffle and citrus marinated grilled baby octopus with Smoked potato crema, crispy garbanzo beans and Spanish paprika.)

and the Vacio Steak Argentino (All-natural Black Angus Argentine-cut grilled bavette steak, Moros y Cristianos and tostones with Argentinean chimichurri on the side).

To finish off we had a beautiful dessert which can most easily be described as a creme brulee in a pineapple. AKA amazing.

This wonderful experience at the chef’s table is not just for bloggers (I’m not that special). The experience of sitting at the grill is open to the public! How cool is that?

For more information, or to make a reservation, please call (609) 348-6700, visit www.cubalibrerestaurant.com, follow them on Twitter (@CubaLibreAC) or Instagram (@CubaLibreRestaurant) and “like” them on Facebook.

For more information, see their official Press Release below.

Press Release:

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located in The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, NJ, announces the addition of a brand new, impressive feature at the popular Cuban restaurant. From throughout the main dining room and from the restaurant’s entrance, skilled chefs will be seen in the “open-fuego” kitchen preparing seared meats and seafood, wood-fired vegetables, and even grilled fruits for innovative hand-crafted cocktails. Guests will experience a true taste of Old Havana with authentic, flavor-packed dishes to be enjoyed while seated in the dining room, at the bar, or at the grill’s 12-person interactive chef’s counter. Adding the wood-fueled grill and oven/smoke box was an idea inspired by two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot’s years of travel to Cuba, where chefs traditionally prepare dishes a la parrilla, or on a wood-burning grill.

“In my travels to Cuba, I’ve tasted the most incredible dishes prepared on simple wood-fired grills, producing incomparable flavors and textures. I am thrilled to unveil a gigantic open-fire grill to Cuba Libre’s Atlantic City location, and to use this elaborate nearly-two ton apparatus to introduce guests to a truly innovative way of cooking classic and contemporary Cuban cuisine,” said Chef Pernot. “This elegant work of industrial art and surrounding chef’s counter will provide a completely new dining experience for our guests, with enhanced tastes and aromas from quickly seared steaks and seafood, wood-grilled seasonal vegetables, and cocktails made with grilled tropical fruits.”

Guests at the 12-person chef’s counter, seated directly in front of the open-fire grill, will have an up-close-and-personal, interactive dining experience with Senior Executive Chef Kevin Couch and his skilled culinary team, with exclusive tastings of dishes as they are prepared, and a look into the traditional Cuban culture and cuisine that inspired the adoption of this elemental manner of cooking. The luckiest of guests may catch Chef Pernot himself, stoking the fires on his new mega-grill and regaling diners with stories of his culinary adventures in Cuba.

Cuba Libre’s menus will feature an expansive list of new wood-fired items prepared on the grill, such as Octopus a la Parrilla, truffle and citrus marinated grilled baby octopus, with smoked potato crema, crispy garbanzo beans and Spanish paprika; Vacio Steak Argentino, all-natural Black Angus Argentine-grilled bavette steak, served with Moros y Cristianos and tostones, and Argentinean chimichurri; Ribeye Jibaro, 22 oz. salmuera-rubbed bone-in ribeye steak, with boniato gratin, grilled broccolini and Cuba Libre steak sauce; and the Paloma Ahumada cocktail, made with Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal, grilled jalapeño honey syrup, St. Elder natural elderflower liqueur, fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice and club soda.

The massive stainless steel grill spans eight feet in length, with two adjustable grates that are manually cranked up and down by steel wheels to cook dishes at the perfect temperature, plus a plancha (griddle) and an oven/smoke box. Fueled naturally by oak and ash woods, and charcoals made from hardwood and coconut, cooking on the grill creates a unique element of enhanced flavor, and because the heat is so intense, it will sear items quickly and char them to perfection, re-creating flavors found in Cuba.

In the fall, Pernot will introduce two new features: a special nightly tasting menu consisting solely of tapas, entrees and cocktails prepared on the open-fire grill; and a monthly Rotisserie Night, featuring off-the-menu crave-worthy proteins prepared on the grill’s rotisserie, like whole loins of beef, pork belly stuffed with a pork loin, and a whole small pig.

About Chef Guillermo Pernot

Guillermo Pernot is the Chef-Partner of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar and a two-time James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region; and Best Single Subject Cookbook. As a nationally renowned chef and restaurateur, Pernot joined Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar as the top toque in the Fall of 2006. As Chef-Partner, Pernot is responsible for maintaining the quality, taste and authenticity of Cuba Libre’s cuisine at all locations as the company expands its concept across America and beyond. Pernot is credited for introducing “Nuevo Latino” cuisine to Philadelphia.  In addition to his two James Beard Awards, while owner of ¡Pasión!, Pernot earned an impressive list of accolades including awards from Gourmet, Food & Wine and Philadelphia Magazines and Fodor’s. Pernot was also named Esquire’s “Chef of the Year.”

About Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar is a four-city restaurant group with locations in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Orlando and Washington, DC. Cuba Libre opened its first location in Old City, Philadelphia in 2000, giving guests a passport to Cuba’s intriguing flavors and culture. Blending native ingredients and cooking traditions with those of South America, Spain, Africa, Asia and several others, Cuban cuisine is a savory mix that reflects its colorful culture.

Cuba Libre’s Atlantic City location serves dinner daily from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m.  Lunch is served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11:30 a.m.  The bar is open until midnight or later on weeknights, and until 3 a.m. or later on weekends.

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