Plantain Cafe is a Cuban eatery that is the latest addition to the burgeoning Gay Street dining corridor. It features limited vegetarian dining options prepared in an authentic Cuban style.
Initially, I was hesitant to dine at Plantain Cafe because the menu only offered black beans and rice as the house standard vegetarian dish. More recently, the dish has been augmented by the addition of three different plantain preparations, giving me just the incentive I needed to sample the wares at Plantain Cafe.
The black beans and rice were subtly flavored and deceptively delicious. The beans were laced with hints of garlic, pepper and cilantro, and the flavor bled into the sticky pile of rice. The rice and beans were served with plantain chips, fried, mashed green plantains and sweet fried plantains. The crispy chips were fantastically addictive. The mashed green plantains (called tostones in Spanish) were a great mix of savory and salty notes. The sweet plantains, probably the version most diners are familiar with, were also outstanding.
The decor at Plantain Cafe screams Caribbean. There is seating inside and outdoors.
Service was a little slow and inefficient today. Plantain Cafe gets a pass because this is their first year of business, and they might not have expected an influx of business from the Columbus Arts Festival. Next year, they should be better equipped to deal with the ups and downs of business in Columbus' Downtown.