Robaina's plantation

Sunday 20 November 2011

Cafe Laurent, La Habana (restaurant review)

                Just before my last trip to Havana I read a blurb about this new restaurant 'Cafe Laurent'. It was very positive so I decided to check it out. I had no address but knew it was close to Hotel Nacional. Fifteen minutes later after driving in circles and asking around, we finally found it. Just a tiny little sign in front of an apartment building was the only indication that a restaurant existed. We were cordially escorted inside the building and led into an elevator which took us to the penthouse.
                 Once you enter the apartment you forget where you are. You enter a large space which is the main dining room and you can see the room extend to the terrace. There is as much seating outside on the terrace as there is in the main room. Huge patio with a beautiful view. There is also a small bar to the side of the room with another much smaller terrace lined with a few stools. Very tastefully done, the walls are lined with old newspapers but it works. There was a television screen playing 'Chris Botti' in concert, low volume, good choice. To the back, towards the kitchen and bathroom, is a private room that can hold about 12 with it's own small balcony, bar and bathroom. Imagine what a great apartment this must have been.
                  The service was very pleasant. Right off the start, the waitress informed us that they had no meat because they were not happy with the quality available to them at the time. If that was true, I can appreciate that. If it was a lie, good move. Regardless, there was plenty to choose from. It was a tough choice to make but I went with the 'Lobster Cocktail' for my appetizer and the whole fried 'Red Snapper' for my main. I couldn't understand how they would fry a whole 1 1/2 lb. fish. I'm used to having it grilled or baked. My guest had the 'Cod Stuffed Pimentos' as her appetizer & the foil wrapped 'Baked Fish Filet' for her main course. When I got my appetizer it blew me away. There were about 1 1/2 lobster tails cut into large chunks, perfectly cooked with a perfect mayo based cocktail sauce on the side. That could have been dinner. The main course, the Snapper, was actually very good. I expected it to be dry but it was cooked just right. With a drizzle of olive oil, that was on every table, it was perfect. My guest's appetizer, the pimentos, were not as strong as I've had in the past. Usually anything with salted cod is quite strong but these were tasty. The fish filet she ordered was beautifully done. The fish was cut into cubes and placed into the foil package with onions, eggplant, white wine and other tasty treats. I won't get into the desserts on this post but we had the Crema Catalana that was to die for. An excellent sellection of homemade goodies. We had a bottle of Chilean Rose with our dinner and a bottle of mineral water, with 10% tip included on the bill, the total was 55cuc. I think that's an excellent deal for what we got. One the top of our list of favourite restaurants in Havana. Can't wait to go back.
                   Refreshing, a little different than the usual fair. The owner-chef, Victor, has worked with his partner Pepe for the last three years in Mexico, New Jersey and in Havana in El Templete, a very good restaurant on the Malecon behind Plaza de Armas. Victor says this is the beginning of a revolution or change in perception and quality of food available in Cuba (which really means Havana). I for one love it.

Calle M  e/19 y 21 no.257 Penthouse
Vedado, La Habana
Tel.(537) 831-2090   832-6890


Looking at the entrance to the restaurant.

Looking at the bar with the small terrace to the left. Chris Botti
blowing his horn on the tv screen.

The Terrace.

Main Courses

Stuffed Pimentos

Lobster Cocktail

Whole Fried Red Snapper

Foil Wrapper Filet of Soul

The Sweethearts of Cuban Television

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