The day Cachet closed was devastating.
It was right down the street from the office and you could get a steak, rice, beans and sweet plantains for $7.99, hard to beat because Southwest Florida was going through a housing boom and prices on everything were rising. Then the bubble burst and everyone’s favorite Cuban restaurant closed.
Funny thing…Cachet’s founder isn’t Cuban. He’s Colombian.
I thought about that this month, as I sat at La Bodeguita Havanera, a Laureles restaurant that serves Cuban food, also with a Colombian owner, Julio Restrepo, the same guy who opened the Son Havana salsa club on a nearby neighborhood corner.
Julio loves Cuba after several trips there, and he has a passion for music. He has blended the two in both his businesses. Even his restaurant has live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Cuban food, at least the trussed up version, not the stuff lacking flavor that is often served in Cuba (from what I’ve heard from friends who have been there), is one of my favorites.
Stumbling upon La Bodeguita a couple of months ago, I made a mental note to return after seeing the Cuban flag and other decorations of the communist country, and the way the waiters looked eager for me to come in, and I am happy I eventually did because they definitely were.
I ordered the pork. They cooked it just like I like it, a little brown and crispy on the edges but soft and tender in the middle, and the onions on top added some great flavor.
It came with Cuban rice, the black beans already mixed in instead of on the side like they did at Cachet. But no matter. I always put the beans on the rice anyway, and the flavor was just as good here in Colombia.
The meal also brought a salad and patacones, green bananas smashed into a disc, then fried in pan, one of my favorite sides.
The plate was about 18,000 pesos (or just over $9.25), surely worth it, even if it was more expensive than Cachet. I really can’t complain about the price considering the location, just off the roundabout (rompoy) at Parque Laureles 2, across the street from the shiny new Inntu Hotel.
It’s a chic location, a place with a handful of trendy restaurants so you don’t need to tell me the rent is high. All I need to know is, the food is good, the prices are right, and the staff is friendly and attentive.
My waiter even asked if I wanted more water, something that rarely happens in Medellín, and the chef came out to talk to me, and we found out we lived in the same area of Envigado, and we talked about someday running into each other although we never have and probably never will, not unless I go back to the restaurant.
I will. I know I will. It’s not like I can ever return to Cachet.