Having read about Lelolai Bakery and Cafe in a number of places, I decided to suggest it to my two traveling companions who were sharing a room with me at the Glidden House. Knowing that Lelolai was also just down the road from the West Side Market located on the corner of West 25th Street and Lorain was all it really took to seal the deal for them. Located at 1889 West 25th Street just west of downtown Cleveland, Lelolai can be reached at 330-771-9956.
After finding suitable parking next to Light Bistro, we walked back to West 25th and soon found ourselves standing in front of their banner:
My friends went inside while I snapped another shot. Here is a shot of the storefront window:
Once inside, we spent a few minutes looking at all of the wonderful desserts in the glass cases. When it was our turn to order, we walked up to the man behind the cash register and proceeded to order two Miami-style Cuban sandwiches and one chorizo empanada. Looking around for my drink choices, I was happy to see that they offered a not-so-easy to find bottled beverage, Malta Goya. I grabbed one from the cooler, paid the check, and spotted an empty table for the three of us.
I walked over to my seat with my Malta Goya and took a snapshot:
Like I mentioned before, I've seen this on TV before but never had a chance to try one out. I have enjoyed Goya products in the past and one of their draws was that they still used sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Upon reading the label, I learned two surprising things. First, sugar was no longer listed as an ingredient and had been replaced with HFCS. The second surprising thing was that this cold beverage had actually been bottled in a plant near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. So much for authenticity.
I will say this about the taste: I'm glad I had a chance to try it. However, I don't know if this is something I would order again. It isn't that it tasted bad, it just tasted sort of odd. It honestly tasted like liquefied bran flakes. Which may just go to show you how much malt flavoring is added to the foods with which we normally surround ourselves. My friend, the beer maker, tasted it and said it was surprisingly similar to his wort, before it had a chance to ferment and turn into beer.
After about ten minutes or so sitting at our table, our food arrived. Here is my Cuban sandwich:
The bread on this sandwich was very nice. Warm and crusty on the outside, it was still nice and soft on the inside. What surprised me about the inside of this sandwich was the pork. While tasty and tender, the pork had been pulled instead of sliced. Every other time I've had this sandwich, it's always been with sliced roasted pork. Obviously whether it was sliced or pulled didn't affect the flavor, but during the process of eating it, sometimes taking a bite would result in an entire hunk of pork coming out of the sandwich. While this was a good sandwich, it didn't wow me like I had anticipated it would. I would definitely order it again, but probably not before exploring some of the other choices on Lelolai's menu.
I also decided to get a side order of the cassava root with garlic:
Absolutely swimming in butter, this dish also came with quite a bit of onions, too. The cassava was quite starchy and while some of it cut easily like a well-cooked baked potato, other spots were a bit more fibrous. Eating this reminded me and my friends of the flavor of pierogi, something which all three of us were definitely familiar. My only other complaint was that when this finally showed up at our table, it was barely lukewarm. I think I would've preferred this dish hot.
I decided that I would take home something from their pastry and dessert case on my way out, but unfortunately the guava bread I had thought sounded so appealing on their online menu was currently being made. As it was a yeast-based bread, it wouldn't be ready for some time. Ah well. Just another reason to go back. If you happen to be near West 25th, you should definitely stop in and check out the tasty treats that Lelolai has to offer. While I did have some reservations about their Miami-style Cuban sandwich, there is plenty of other wonderful food to try that I'm sure you'll find something delicious.