Robaina's plantation

Monday, 9 December 2013

El Bodegon del Asado (Restaurant Review) Havana

                Once again I returned to my beloved Havana for the Partagas Encuentro, a week long celebration where Cigar Aficionados gather from around the world. Many of us know each other and I discovered that many of those follow my blog and check it for my restaurant recommendations. Someone asked me what new places I had discovered and sadly I couldn't answer him. I had been visiting the same places that I really enjoyed, not having a great deal of time, I hadn't ventured into the unknown. On this trip I decided to visit a relatively new place that Conner Gory highly recommended on her travel app. 'Havana Good Time'. It sounded like it would be something I would enjoy, that is if the review was true and not an embellishment. Conner didn't lie and I'll be checking out more of her reviews in the future. If you're reading this, thank you Conner.
                 The restaurant is a Paladar and that is to say it's in a residence where the owner would actually live. This house is located on street that runs off Calle 23, a major artery that cuts through the Vedado district of Havana. As with many or most of these restaurants, if you don't have an address you would never find it and many times walk right by it and not know it. In this particular case the outdoor market located to the right of it would draw more attention than the restaurant itself. We had an address and had no difficulty finding it although it was right in the middle of a residential area. The seating area was located to the back of the house, walking by the dessert counter on the way there. All seating is outdoors with some under a canopy in case of rain which was almost upon us. The decor was like something out of a roadhouse in North America with memorabilia scattered all around....old Esso and Coca Cola signs, licence plates, wheels and nic nacs which gave the place a rustic or homey feel. The description they use on their flyer is that it was meant to give it a country feeling. Since the menu is Criollo or Country cooking, I would say they did a good job. I liked it, I found it very comfortable.
                  The restaurant had been open for about a year off and on. It opened and then closed for a bit before reopening again. The service was quite pleasant and I would have to say that this was one of the most knowledgeable waiters that I've had the pleasure of interacting with. There was no question he couldn't answer and I/we had many. That is rare in this country, especially with a menu as vast as this one. Usually the waiter goes to the kitchen to have the question answered only to return and go through the process again when asked another question. As I said, the menu was fairly large and we had difficulty deciding what to eat but finally deciding we would have to return (providing the food was good) to try the items we didn't order. The dish we decided on immediately was the Garbanzo Fritto (translated...fried chick peas) and ordered that right away while deciding on the rest of our meal. It took only about five minutes to arrive and the waiter was correct, all the portions were abundant. They tell me this is a Spanish dish and varies from place to place, basically it's chick peas sauted with chorizo sausage and a touch of tomato. What can vary is the amount of chorizo and it's quality and how wet or dry the dish can be. This particular one had an excessive amount of sausage of excellent quality and had just the right amount of tomato. However, the chick peas could have been a little more tender but they weren't that bad. Taste wise it was my opinion. The other appetizer I decided to order was the Pork Riblets, my first time anywhere in Cuba. This was an excellent choice, two of these Rib apps would have been more than enough for a main course. Something I didn't expect was BBQ sauce on my ribs. They described the ribs being with honey and lemon balm sauce which to my surprise was bbq sauce....never would have guessed it. It was just like back home only better, the ribs were moist and tender.
                  We were saying how filling everything was and the main courses hadn't arrived, actually, everything arrived pretty much at the same time at this point. We ordered way too much food. My girlfriend ordered the Masas de Cerdo Fritas (fried pork chunks) and I the Cordero al Romero (rosemary lamb). The pork was fatty but ohh so good. The Lamb was done in it's own gravy and more like pulled lamb, no bones, I would recommend it to anyone who likes lamb. It was a little gamey but if you like lamb you're going to enjoy it. We made the mistake of ordering sides and realized the mains came with a little something and it would have been enough. My mistake, after checking the bill, these sides came with the mains. I ordered the white rice with black beans (Arroz Blanco con Frijoles Negro) and my girlfriend the yellow rice (Arroz con Maiz Guajiro). The rice and beans I ordered were wonderful and I thought my girlfriend's were good as well but she said they lacked the quantity of corn that she remembered from her mom's cooking and found it a bit dry. What do I know, I thought it was a nice change from the usual but had never had it before. Thank God we didn't order a side of Yukka or Malanga, we would still be there, eating. I ordered the Vina Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile ($15cuc), very reasonable. We asked for the winelist but the waiter said it wasn't up to date. I gave him a $$ range and this is the wine we came up with. Served a little chilled it hit the spot. The dessert menu had 6 items on it but they only had flan (Creme Caramel), it was nice but a choice would have been good as well. We couldn't complain, everything included, wine and tip as well, $41.91cuc. As I said, way too much food, we had to take some stuff home. FYI, take out containers are charged, in this case 35 cents each. I will have to come back to try some of the other dishes....maybe this January.

El Bodegon del Asado
Calle 24 e/23 y 25
tel. 836-3636
Hours of Operation
Monday- Sunday 10am-11pm

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