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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cuban Panino at Arlequin

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 7:30 AM

The Cuban: pork confit, Zoe's Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, pickle ($11). - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • The Cuban: pork confit, Zoe's Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, pickle ($11).
Thursday, July 21, 2010

Let us no longer speak of authenticity when discussing the Cuban sandwich. By now the cubano has become a meme, heavily riffed on all over town. The core elements seem to be the sandwich temperature (warm), the pork (roast, plus ham if you're lucky), and the cheese (melted). Were your average San Franciscan to fly to Miami with the express goal of tasting the Cuban sandwich at its source, he or she might end up with a suitcase full of anticlimax.

With that disclaimer finally off our chest, we'd say that the appeal of Arlequin Cafe's Cuban sandwich is that it's actually a pork panino with pickles ― or rather, a two-pork croque, listed on the menu between the cafe's regular and portobello croques messieurs. Further departing from traditional notions of Cubanity, the sandwich is made with heavily buttered sandwich bread, left between the irons of a press grill for long enough to make you antsy and the sandwich evenly browned and crisp-shelled. The pork confit at the center, both physically and spiritually, is redolent with rosemary. A melted, barely noticeable slice of Swiss glues the pork up against a few ham slices, and house-cured pickles alternate with dollops of whole-grain mustard to send out intermittent flashes of vinegar. Is it a great Cuban sandwich? There are more cubanos to taste before we can make that judgment. SFoodie will tell you this: We finished every bite.

Arlequin Cafe 384 Hayes (at Gough), 626-1211.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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