The new Cuban sandwich at Abby Singer’s Bistro has been six years in the making. The small, popular bistro, which is located upstairs at Robinson Film Center in downtown Shreveport, recently released an updated menu, and the Cuban ($12) was finally there, listed under “Sandwiches & Stuff.” What you wouldn’t know, unless you worked there or hung out there too much – as I do – is that the Cuban’s been a secret menu item for years. Now it is the most popular new item on their menu.
The sandwich has been a passion project of Mike Woodfork, director of operations at Robinson Film Center, who’s been lobbying for its addition to the menu for years.
“Basically, it took five years to get it on the menu,” Woodfork said. “We’ve been experimenting with it, and I kept talking to (Abby Singer’s Bistro chef) Greg about doing it. I gave him some samples of a mojo to marinate the pork in, and it turned out pretty good! It makes me proud that it’s on the menu.”
How could you tinker with a sandwich for more than five years? Getting the proportions correct is important, according to Woodfork. You can’t put too much pork or too much ham on the sandwich. Finding the right quality of ham was important. When it became obvious that sourcing true Cubano bread – like you’d find in Tampa or Miami – would be cost-prohibitive, a stand-in bread had to be identified. Throughout the years, Mike would slip up to Abby Singer’s Bistro on his lunch break, chat with the kitchen staff, and have one of his Cuban sandwiches about once a week.
Woodfork grew up in New Orleans, then moved to California, then returned to New Orleans, where he lived for six years until Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. He’s been an employee of the Robinson Film Center for 11 years, and is known as someone who’s always tinkering with things, refining systems, and trying to make them perfect. When asked if he’s satisfied with the Abby Singer’s Bistro Cuban sandwich, he gives the response you’d expect:
“The Cuban is on-point…it stands up pretty good,” he said. “If we could only get a source for that real Cuban bread…”
Woodfork encourages fans of Robinson Film Center and Abby Singer’s Bistro to be on the lookout for a Haitian-themed dinner and movie night on July 26, 2018, complete with a Haitian film screening, dinner, art, and discussion. Like good Cuban sandwiches, it is a subject that is close to his heart.