5. The Portions
If you are anything like me, fancy food doesn’t impress you. And by fancy food I’m not referring to any quality level of ingredients or cooking methods but rather the presentation. There is nothing more disappointing to me to receive a dish that has two stems of asparagus delicately stacked and decorated with a total of four grains of rice around it. As much as I would like to appreciate the artistic nature of it, I can’t help but feel cheated.
Coming from a multicultural background, I equate food with a way of showing love. My dad is a southern man from Texas and South Carolina, where love was shown by tables of barbequed meat, bowls overflowing with green beans, mountains of mashed potatoes and a never-ending appetite for homemade pecan pie. My mom is from Thailand, where most meals are literally served “family-style”, in massive portions meant to be shared. At Versaille, the love is well communicated, as all of the dishes come with generous, satisfying portions with every dish.
4. The Desserts
Looking at their Yelp page, you’ll notice significant portions of comments are dedicated to their desserts. In all honestly, I was disappointed when I first saw the menu and saw dishes like tres leches and chocolate cake. With reviews like I saw, I would have assumed the dessert menu included wildly creative desserts you couldn’t find anywhere else. Upon further examination, I came to an understanding.
Yes, the dishes themselves were pretty common, but the taste? Outstanding! Yes, I’ve had crème brulee a dozen times before but it has never tasted so rich and fresh before. My friends who got the other desserts had similar sentiments. Even though the service was fast, you could taste what was the product of hours of work and years-old homemade recipes.
3. The Legacy
When you go to the restaurant, one of the first signs you see everywhere is the slogan “The World’s most famous Cuban restaurant”. It has definitely earned this title as it’s served as a Cuban community staple in Miami for over forty years. The sense of legacy and honor that comes with being at a museum, you feel when you step foot into the massive display of Cuban heritage and architecture that is this restaurant.
For how long it has physically been at the location, it’s a fascinating thought to realize that the food and the atmosphere of my visit was the same as it was during the 70’s. A home for Cuban exiles, the restaurant has served as grounds for activism and community building. One look at the history page of the website and you learn that even the parking lot is a focal point of activity, as news reporters often meet there in attempts to get the Cuban community’s opinions.
2. The Culture
Even the food my mom used to pack in my lunch box communicated a message of multiculturalism that made up my heritage. Often I would take to school basil fried rice made with fried chicken, or green curry made with collard greens instead of bamboo.
The food at Versaille represents this same level of multiculturalism as one can easily find Haitian, Dominican, and even American influences within their less than traditional options on the menu. In addition, nearly every entrée name is presented in English and Spanish, and the music playing is traditional as well, further emphasizing authentic cultural roots.
1. The Symbolism
Although this establishment is primarily based in Cuban roots, it is a melting pot if I’ve ever seen one. To put simply, it beautifully represents what makes Miami so unique. In my hour and a half visit, I overheard at least four different languages, saw food from multiple regions at one table, and our waiter even took our order bilingually. Despite the bustle and chaos of the dinner rush, people were still taking time to talk to one another from table to table. (Okay that may have been an over-exaggeration because I only saw it twice, but still pretty cool right?)
Miami as a city represents so much more than the flashy lifestyle portrayed in the media. It’s best quality isn’t a charismatic rapper shouting the area code every five seconds and throwing champagne everywhere (looking at you, Pitbull). It’s best quality represents a meeting point in which several cultures come together to create a new community built from love, acceptance and togetherness.