Though we’ve never been, for Valentine’s Day my wife and I went to Carnivale as it’s had received good reviews. When we walked in right away we felt the place was over the top, yet awe-inspiring with generous use of primary colors, high ceilings, Cuban music, and lots of energy. Coming in there was someone handing out free samples of Spanish olives. Carnivale is mostly pan-Latin but does throw in Spanish dishes like manchengo and zamarano cheese as well as the ever-tasty jamon Iberico. The other thing we noticed was the people patronizing the establishment, were very eclectic and perhaps not a typical West Loop club crowd.
Our server was very peppy and extremely knowledgeable Our
appetizers were a ropa vieja, which was a long plate of braised beef on
plantains with a yellow-colored spicy mayonnaise and queso fresco. The server praised the ceviche, and we decided to order a sampler of three instead of an individual serving, which included tuna, Arctic char, and pescado. We ignored our server’s recommendation that the Arctic char was just okay, and she was right—it really was “just okay”. The
tuna (the “Atun Tiradito”) was served with ahi tuna with a Serrano
chile on top with avocado on a bed of jicama (a type of root vegetable
not unlike a turnip) and the combination of flavors was amazing.
For our main course I had the churrasco which according to the menu, was a “Nicaraguan-style wood-grilled” beef tenderloin. It was served with a goat cheese puree and arugula chimichurri (parsley, oregano, olive oil and vinegar) and a spicy beet salsa. I requested medium rare, and it was perfectly cooked, red on the inside and brown on the outside. It was succulent and absolutely delicious. The goat cheese puree was fantastic. My
wife had a red snapper special with cilantro pesto special served on
top of a Peruvian potato, which was good but we preferred the churrasco
We skipped wine and dessert this time, and I went for the cocktails. I had a pisco fresco, which was made with egg whites, brandy, lemon, cinnamon and sugar. It was good, though I may have preferred a bit of bite, either from the lemon or the brandy. Next I ordered a caipirinha, which was very good but small at two ounces. A little more lime or, better yet, cachaca?
Being pleasantly full, we skipped desert and went with an after-dinner drink instead (I went with a medium-sweet malvasia). And we left with the memory of the ropa vieja and the churrasco.
702 W. Fulton St.