To properly review Cabana Nuevo Latino, you have to look at it with proper perspective: of the street, the neighborhood, and the borough.
70th Road has developed into a small restaurant row in the Forest Hills area. While the cuisines are varied, and each restaurant tries to out-do each other with signage and decor, there is a collective lack of identity for these restaurants. It feels as if the entire row is catered towards someone who wishes to experience cool-and-stylish Manhattan style dining, the problem is Manhattan style dining is only a 15 minute train ride away. I’ve often said Brooklyn has its own identity, while Queens is bent on copying Manhattan concepts.
The only restaurant on this entire block that feels authentic is Cabana, because it is. The restaurant has been here since 1994, probably before the hostess at the adjacent Asian fusion restaurant was born. It’s even since spawned 4 other locations.
Looking at the menu and decor, not much has changed since inception. As its neighbors emulate trends, Cabana focus on creating its own. Portions are large, and flavors are more powerful than complex.
For example, while it’s easy to dismiss an avocado salad as being too simple or boring (then again, so is a Caesar), Cabana shows that a properly executed avocado salad with fresh ingredients and a lime based vinaigrette is still a crowd pleaser.
As for mains, the most exciting dish on the menu is easily the charred and seasoned skirt steak. The flame broiled scent easily attracts the attention of adjacent tables as they look at the steak with envy. This isn’t your typical dry-aged, naturally flavored chop. This is all about the seasonings, and a bit of lime juice makes it thoroughly enjoyable.
The other dishes seemed slightly monotonous, though not completely in a bad way. Many entrees feature shrimp soaked in thick garlic sauce, served over rice. Variations seem to be the color of the sauce, and what other stuff you can get on your plate. That said, the shrimp were nice and plump, and the seasoned rice is absolutely delicious on its own. Pair the rice with the sauce, and I’m slopping it up with a spoon.
Shows once again that restaurants are about flavor, not LED signs and fusion everything. Who would have known…..
What does this rating mean?
From the notebook: A fun restaurant, though seating is slightly cramped. Come early on weekends, you’ll be in for a brief wait. Prices are very fair, especially for the intense flavors and portion sizes.
10710 70th Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375