El Rincon Criollo
4361 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA, USA

Rinky-dink little Cuban/Creole joint that I wanted to like, I really did. I wanted to excuse the chintzy decor (replete with trawling nets full of plastic crustaceans, authentically poor Cuban paintings, etc). The place is so damn sincere I feel bad about dissing it. But despite a well-meaning staff, the whole experience was just fourth-rate all around. Slower than shit, for one thing. But the real disappointment was the food, which was authentic in the way my mom's cooking is authentically American: it's just not very good.

I had a Cuban sandwich -- the bread was off, the pork was flavorless, and there was literally just a single pickle on the whole thing. So basically a mediocre grilled ham and cheese. Also had a Coke, which was fine. Took maybe five bites of the sandwich, two of which were devoted to finding the pickle slice and the other three merely out of politeness.

Companion had shrimp in garlic sauce, the best part of which seemed to be the white rice that came with it. Their specialty seems to be chicken, which in hindsight I probably should have tried. But judging by this visit, I'll most likely pass on giving "The Creole Corner" another shot.

The music was good, at least. Just the good old Cuban stuff from the 40s and 50s, can't go wrong with that. It's entirely possible that I should have thought of this place more as a Creole joint than a Cuban one, but I'm not convinced it would have made much difference. I mean, at the end of the day, what's the fuckin' difference between Fidel Castro and Rockin' Sidney, anyways?

Review by Mr. Peter Wong Tung Shun, July 2010