Robaina's plantation

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

El Templete (Restaurant Review) Havana May 2013

                As far as I'm concerned, this is the best restaurant for seafood in Havana. It might be a bit pricey but in my opinion good value for your money. I hadn't been there in about a year and was sorry for that. I had forgotten how good it was. I must come more often in the future. The drinks were also a bit pricey (still less than half what I would pay at home) but the wine list wasn't too bad. I found a decent Spanish Rose by Torres in the mid $20's range that we were happy much that we had a second bottle. The decor has never really appealed to me. Considering how good the food is, the furnishings are a little outdated. Small price to pay for the best seafood in the city. The location makes up for it, right at the end of the Malecon facing the harbour. 
                This was going to be the last meal I was to have in a restaurant before leaving to go home. I ordered way too much food but I knew that. I wanted to try a few dishes I hadn't tried in the past. I had the Scallop and Steamed Clams to start and my companion had the Albacor Stuffed Pimientos. The Scallop was not at all what I expected. The presentation was beautiful, a single plump scallop sitting on the half shell, done simply in garlic and olive oil. It needed a bit of salt but otherwise it was tender and sweet. The bowl of clams were done in garlic, white wine and olive oil, just the way I would have them at home. Tasty and no sand....sand is always a fear of mine when I have clams. The Pimientos my companion ordered were surprising good. The Albacor was fished fresh that day  for the restaurant (they have their own people who fish for them every day) and mashed up very fine after being cooked, just like she likes it. She enjoyed it tremendously. As a main course I had what I usually have, the Tuna. It was a decent sized loin cooked perfectly for me, a little pink in the middle, served with (canned) white asparagus and the plate dotted with squid ink. My companion had the Whole Snapper, butterflied and deboned....both dishes were done with garlic and olive oil, exactly how I would do it and hers served with few potatoes and vegetables. We shared a mixed salad that was almost a Nicoise with tuna, olives, tomato and hard boiled egg with greens. Way too much food. Finished with a Creme Brulee, very nice, an espresso and a Havana Club Barrel Proof Rum.
                 The service was great as always and Alejandro, the sommelier, was knowledgeable and pleasure to talk to. I had the opportunity to meet the chef, Williams Fernandez, who has been with the restaurant awhile. A tall man who appears to be a little shy. I'll try to get his story one day. It was a great experience that cost me $128cuc but should in no way be an example of what it should cost here. Without going overboard, dinner or lunch for 2 with wine and tip should be around $70-80cuc. It may seem like a lot but as I said, great value. If it's in your budget, I recommend you give it a try, a consistently good restaurant.

Avenida del Puerto #12-14 esq/ Narciso Lopez
Habana Vieja behind Plaza de Armas
Phone  7 866 8807
Hours Daily noon-midnight


Stuffed Pimientos

Red Snapper


Williams Fernandez the chef

Alejandro the wine guy

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