Caribana brings zesty, delicious Caribbean cuisine to Lindenhurst
Taking the space of one-time Ad-Lib Geocafe, Caribana brings a bevy of Caribbean flavors to the table in Lindenhurst. The menu includes salads, burgers, seafood, chicken and steaks, with a healthy dose of mango salsa sprinkled throughout the menu, plus wine or beer to go with your meal.
Every dinner at Caribana starts with Hawaiian sweet rolls and butter mixed with lime zest for that tropical feel. We loved the butter; it didn't just taste sweet and citrusy, it also smelled bright and divine. Personally, I'd put it on a brioche roll rather than a sweet Hawaiian roll -- I liked the combination, but others found it too sweet.
For appetizers, we ordered the poke tuna, calamari and Caribana fritters. The poke tuna is a mix of tuna, mango salsa and sesame-garlic glaze, topped with sesame seeds and served with crispy, slightly salty won ton chips. We loved this. The tuna was super fresh and the mango salsa added a nice zip to the fish. The salty crunch of the chips delivered a necessary twist of texture and taste. I felt like there was something slightly missing, though; some avocado would round it out with a bit of creaminess.
Both the calamari and the fritters were fried -- the fritters were made with crab and shrimp. All the seafood was very tender and fresh, and neither appetizer was greasy from the fryer. The fritters didn't have a lot of filler either, so we got plenty of both meats.
Our entrees were the seared salmon, chicken and shrimp etoufee, Island Bird burger, Caribana jerk chicken and mojo grilled rib-eye. Right away, we noticed all the meats and seafood were cooked perfectly, even the steak. The seared salmon, though not a very large portion, had a nice crispy edge to it and came with ginger-lime cream sauce that paired well with the fish. On the side, I had herbed heirloom potatoes (a mix of sweet potato and regular potato, lightly seasoned and crispy) and the Caribbean rice (mixed with corn and beans, but lacking seasoning and slightly overcooked). The rice showed better in the etoufee (a large portion of slow-cooked chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage, vegetables, tomatoes and seasoned rice), where everything was cooked spot-on and swam in a smoky tomato sauce. The Island Bird was a mojo spiced turkey patty, with honey-lime greens and mango salsa on top. The patty itself was moist, and the flavors worked really well together. We would have liked a sturdier bun though, to add more stability for the tender meat and soft salsa.
If the "jerk" label on a meal scares you, you don't need to worry about Caribana's jerk chicken entree -- it's got a subtle kick to the tender meat that isn't overpowering or overly spicy. Pair it with the grilled sweet corn, which comes on the cob and has a lime hint to it. The mojo grilled rib-eye was cooked and seasoned well, but came with a chipotle beef sauce that was lacking the punch we expected.
The kids in our group ordered the salmon and shrimp meals. They both liked their food, but unfortunately all the kids' seafood was overcooked.
For dessert we ordered the Key lime cheesecake and the coconut bread pudding. Both portions were individual-size, so unless you're really full from dinner, order your own rather than one to share. The bread pudding came with chocolate and caramel sauces on the side and was a bit more like French toast than we were expecting. It didn't have an overpowering coconut flavor but could have used a bit of cinnamon to punch up the taste. The Key lime cheesecake arrived with a raspberry sauce, and it was a light and refreshing end to the meal, with a sweet kick from the lime that brought dinner full circle.
We loved the food and will return for it, but we also loved the service. The waitstaff is friendly and the small restaurant already has a dedicated following -- customers the owner comes to greet with a hearty handshake and smile once they walk in. Caribana is already thriving, and I expect the success will continue.
• • •
453 U.S. 45, Lindenhurst, (224) 444-8256, caribanagrill.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays; closed Mondays
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.