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Bayside, New York
July 22, 2004
The service is a bit slow at Meson Pepe, but you can enjoy the music while you wait. Or, as I did, the back of the menu has the history of the building and it's worth the five minutes it takes to peruse.
Chuck was intrigued by one of the dishes that was brought out to another table, and immediately wanted one and the same. It was a wonderful mix of fried white cheese, chorizo, picadillo, beans and corn at the bottom of a pile of warm tortillas. We ordered a fresh salad to accompany this huge meal which neither one of us could finish. Wine for Chuck, lemonade for me and it was not pink, thank heavens.
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Something about the building: it is also referred to as Caya Hueso y Habana (Caya Hueso means Bone Island, and was badly translated by the Americans who thought it meant Key West...ah the lack of culture!). Thousands of Cuban refugees came through this building during the 19th century; oddly enough, I was related to one of them who has since died. After you finish your meal, or before, take a tour inside: there is more restaurant seating, but thanks to the imagination and creativity of one Mario Sanchez, he recreated the essence of Cuban life on the island during that time with barber shops, domino matches, cigar making (he was the son of a cigar maker).
You can purchase souvenirs and cigars in the gift shop.
Some of the typical Cuban dishes served here are:
Ropa Vieja, Churrasco, Picadillo Habanero, Chuletas de cerdo al Key Lime, Frituras de Cobo (conch), Gambas a la plancha, and Tamal Cubano al ajillo. Breath mints de rigueur!
From journal Keys Please!
May 13, 2004
From journal 3 Great Days in the American Caribbean -- Key West
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
June 13, 2003
The restaurant has three main areas - 'the Cistern' and 'Patio' outside and 'the Historium' inside what was presumably a dockside warehouse. The walls are decorated with Cuba-oriented murals, old photographs and paraphenalia. It's slightly cavernous nature made it feel a little less than intimate. We certainly felt that this restaurant needed the music and dancing to bring it to life.
As for the food . . . well there's lots of it!! We didn't finish a starter of chorizo and fried plantain chips shared between two and quickly realised that main course on a similar scale would defeat us completely!!
The Blonde set about a pile of marinated shrimp while I had some marinated pork with black beans and yellow rice. All perfectly fine but leaving us satisfied and a little bloated rather than savouring the delicate flavours.
The service was fine, the food reasonable and plentiful, and, most importantly in June, the beer was cold and kept coming.
From journal Key West - the best way to wind down