A commitment to traditional Latin flavors is the number-one priority at El Oriental de Cuba, though the kitchen staff isn't afraid to add a touch of New England flair. These bold combinations have been lauded by both local culinary and cultural institutions. Through a large, open window, diners watch as haddock is prepared spicy, garlicky, or coated in a coconut sauce, and lobster is stuffed into empanadas. In creating other dishes, the cooks reach for ingredients such as plantains, yucca, and pigeon peas, and slow-cook their meats to transport minds to Caribbean sunsets.
Though the atmosphere may be casual, the decor in the dining area isn't without touches of refinement. Sage-green walls surround the long space, whose high, peaked ceiling supports hanging lamps and fans. As guests bite into classic cuban sandwiches and fried pork chops, they gaze at colorful paintings and photographs of children playing in the old country.
Brightly colored walls, a permanent display of paintings by Dominican artists, and flavorful tropical dishes helped net Merengue a nod for Best Caribbean Restaurant in Boston Magazine's Best of Boston 2008. The kitchen yields a spread of meat and seafood items that range from fried pork skins and steak tips cooked in creole sauce to shrimp gumbo and a grilled red snapper in garlic-and-parsley sauce. Merengue?s two dining rooms seat 90 people, and a private room with WiFi and a PowerPoint screen projector provide ample meeting-room space. Catering menus for weddings and banquets offer a variety of serving styles, including formal seated dinners, self-serve buffets, and spoon feedings performed with accompanying airplane sounds.