Like the bánh mì, the Cuban sandwich is one of those things that, even in this city of $55 macaroni and cheese, is always cheap no matter how flavorful and no matter how packed with meaty goodness. At El Sitio — where it’s a “perfectly harmonious blend of flavor and texture,” per the Underground Gourmet — it goes for just $4.35. Even the Cuban at Sullivan St. Bakery — “so good it doesn’t even need to be pressed” — is just $6.50. That’s why we were nothing short of outraged to see a $16.95 Cuban on Cupping Room Cafe’s lunch menu. That “1” in front of the “6” isn’t a typo — there’s also a $16.95 burrito.
“There’s a lot of meat and it’s a big sandwich,” explained the person who answered the phone there. At the same time, he assured us his Cuban was a Cuban like any other — “I’ve had them both and they’re the same.” But we knew something was horribly wrong when we were given the options of focaccia, whole wheat, rye, or sourdough. A whole-wheat Cubano? That’s a bigger oxymoron than vitamin beer! “This sandwich is pressed, right?” we asked, and we were assured that it was. And yet look at what we got. Mr. Cutlets deemed the sandwich, stuffed mainly with pork rolls, “one-third as tasty as a sandwich one-third the price,” and the fries were so soggy and greasy that we had to wash our faces after forcing them down.
Shame on you, Cupping Room Cafe. The Cuban mustn’t go the way of the hamburger — vulnerable to whimsical price inflation and egregious interpretations. We demand that you drop it from your menu, or at least drop the “1” from the price. To compensate, you can raise the price of your $21.95 tuna niçoise — charge $210.95 for it if you’d like. But leave us our Cubano.