Local chefs Miguel Rivas and Jeremy Ashby, who have both explored the tastes and ingredients of “new Southern” cuisine while cooking together at Azur Restaurant & Patio, are taking their repertoire just further south of the border with their latest venture.
South of the border, but not Mexico way. Brasabana Cuban Cuisine, which opened last week on Lane Allen Road, specializes in Caribbean food, which has substantial differences from Mexican food.
“Don’t come here and expect to get a basket of chips and salsa,” Ashby said. While corn is a staple in Mexican cuisine, it isn’t as prominent as an ingredient in the Caribbean islands, he explained. So maybe not corn, but do expect to see plantains, yucca, carnitas, ropa vieja, mojitos, and, of course, the quintessential Cuban sandwich on the menu.
Brasabana – the name being a mixture of “brasa,” a small, controlled fire used for slow cooking in the region, and Habana, the Latin spelling for the Cuba capital, Havana – is the sister restaurant to Azur Restaurant & Patio (along with Rivas and Ashby, the other co-owners are Bernie Lovely and Rob Mudd). As with Azur, which puts a heavy emphasis on exemplifying the farm-to-table food philosophy, Ashby and Rivas want to bring as many locally produced items to Brasabana’s menu.
“The style of food is not really fancy. We’re not looking for farmers to grow us heirloom-variety vegetables,” Ashby said. “We use the bulk ingredients that they can really grow. We use a lot of peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, fresh herbs.
“When it comes to meats, this is not a filet mignon and ribeye or rack of lamb place. We’re using chicken thighs, we’re using chuck roast, and braising things low and slow for hours. These lower cuts of meat, which farmers have a hard time selling, we’re going to be a good outlet for that.”