ever since we moved to the space coast, little birds have been whispering about “this wonderful cuban restaurant by the river”.
not only was the food and atmosphere highly recommended but also, the stories of the intriguing owner, alfredo. i now consider our arrival at the destination, getting to the emerald city. i do not think i have enjoyed a morning, that turned into afternoon, in this way. i felt like i was at alfredo’s house and had traveled to another land. when he unveils his life and gives the tour of the meaningful museum that is his, well air conditioned, establishment, i began feeling like a child being read a great story at bedtime. and, you don’t want it to end. it really doesn’t. i think we just got some select chapters, and had we stayed another 3 hours, more would be revealed about this fascinating and mulit-talented man.
we settled in for our journey with some smooth cafe con leche. this is always a real treat for me. i would choose it over ice cream any day! i noticed later, when the place was full of patrons (i bet many regular), that a high percentage of the tables were ordering the cafecito. as it says in the menu “tiny and enduring like the island itself, strong and sweet like its people.” unfortunately, i could not do two in one morning, but will think about it until my next visit! as well as the sweets that i didn’t get; still kicking myself. but, i see a future of becoming a regular. no worries.
vanessa and i couldn’t wait for our video blog, and i confess, had come here a few days before. alfredo was not “home” so we began our indulgence prior to our official visit. the wait staff could not have been more gracious. they have that spirit of family and nothing was lacking that he wasn’t there. that day, we got the mojitos with the largest divine chunks of fruit and mint to cool our palettes. the yuca rellena apps are helping my mission of french fry replacement. the best part, they are topped with a fitting helping of sautéed onions.
main course, masas de puerco frita…..chunks of fried pork with mojo-onion marinade. i’m all over their use of onions. the dish was harmonized perfectly with rice, and black beans that are more in a simmering soup form. they alone, would satisfy and had a most distinct flavor. chased it all down with plantains for a finale.
on our next visit, i got the palomilla steak. a perfect portion of thin beef steak, again, with those divine onions!! had a second round of mojitos and yuca, which do go together like peas and carrots. was fantasizing about “hemingway rice”, a seafood paella that serves 5 people….. i will bring 4 people.
whether you sit indoors amongst the wonderful memorabilia, and musical accouterment ( such as the fantastic conga bar stools) or out on the enchanting mural walled patio, you will feel removed from all and well traveled, if even for an afternoon or evening. those little birds told me the night time is pretty wonderful itself and you just might to get to hear the great alfredo play a tune.
today we’re taking you to a magical place, El Ambia Cubano, where Alfredo Hernandez-Fromand has created a place for people to eat, drink, sing, and dance. the family atmosphere here starts with the welcoming staff. from Roly and Roberto creating their spectacular cuban dishes in the kitchen to Billy, Jenna and Natalie taking care of all your dining needs and all you have to do is leave your worries at the door.
each piece of art throughout El Ambia has a special meaning and a story which Alfredo tells with such enthusiasm….just ask!
the patio is magical in itself. vines twisting around all over and a painting that Alfredo did of himself sitting by the water in Cuba starring off into a world he will soon explore. a fairy would find this to be a treasure of a place to live and watch the humans as they gather.
no better way to start an afternoon but with a mojito. on a prior visit Billy made us an award winning pineapple/mango mojito that was refreshing and light. if you like mint and limes with a fruity twist this is the drink for you!
you can never go wrong with something fried and that ‘s exactly what the yuka frita is. hot and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. drizzled with the mojo/onion house sauce it’s one way of getting my taste buds ready for my cuban sandwich.
and here it comes….the medianoche, a slight spin on a traditional cuban sandwich. slow roasted juicy pork and ham with melted swiss cheese dressed with mayo and yellow mustard and of coarse pickles but what makes this different is the sweet bread it’s served on. this fresh sweet bread has been pressed to perfection. with every bite you can’t wait for your next. this is one juicy sandwich!
all dishes at El Ambia are prepared fresh daily and you can really tell!
i could go on and on about this gem of a place but you must get here and experience it for yourself!
thank you for letting us into your family and we’ll be back for some more eating, drinking, singing and dancing soon!
El Ambia Cubano
950 E. Melbourne Ave
Melbourne, FL 32901