Robaina's plantation

Saturday 23 August 2014

Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco (Restaurant Review) Havana

              I should have posted this review a long time ago. I have visited this spot several times already over the span of two trips and I'll probably visit again on the next one a few days from now. It took two and a half years for a team of Historians, Engineers, Architects, Designers and Builders to bare fruit from this massive project but finally it was opened this past March 14. There has been a restoration project in the works for several years now (and still has a few years to go) for the old harbour with this giant pub, right next door to the tourist arts & crafts market, being the latest addition. Habanaguanex, a government tourist office which is involved in most every aspect of the tourism industry, is responsible for opening this 400 seat restaurant with it's great view of the bay. Even Havana's Historian, Eusebio Leal, participated at the opening. This is one of two restaurants, the other being the 'Taberna de La Muralla' in Plaza Vieja, which brew their own beer right on the premises in plane view of the customers. Three different types of beer are produced and sold here; a blonde, an amber and a dark. Which is better is a matter of personal taste and although I have never tried the other two in either of the restaurants, I always go for the amber and like it too much to try the others. Actually that may be a lie, I may have tried the others years ago at the Plaza Vieja restaurant and may not remember. With 400 seats, the place is massive and has quite a bit of seating outside as well as inside. It may have been built to attract tourist dollars but I found on all my visits that there were a fair bit of locals there as well. The warehouse was originally built in the late 18th century during a time when Havana was experiencing a boom in business. There's even an antique train parked out front which shows how goods were transferred to and from the warehouse during it's years of operation.
                Aesthetically the place is very pleasant and spacious, it has a 27 meter long bar at the far end of the building with the brewing machinery behind it in plane site of anyone who cares to look. The murals that take up a huge chunk of the wall were done by the artist Monica Pestano. It has a modern look to it and uses ramps as well as stairs but I can't tell you if they have handicap restrooms....sorry. Flat screen televisions are scattered around the room showing music videos and I had read somewhere that some kind of live entertainment is in the works for the near future. 
                As far as the food goes, I haven't tried everything on the menu yet. Prices are ok, some things are better value than others but it isn't the cheapest place in town, you can judge for yourself if you can make out the menu pictured below. My favourite item so far are the ribs, a couple of plates of those babies and a half a cylinder of beer and I'm good to go. The beer is served by the pint (2.50cuc) or chilled cylinder which holds 6 pints (12cuc). It's more expensive than a Cristal or Bucanero but still a lot cheaper by our North American standards. If you're a sandwich person, the beer sandwich was enjoyable (5cuc), it contained several different deli meats as well as pork and cheese & served with chips. The Sausage Board (5cuc) was disappointing, it only had an adequate chorizo, a questionable ham and a blood sausage with 2 crackers...I will not be having this again. I also had the Skewered Pork (4.50cuc) which I found a bit dry, maybe the chicken is better...I won't be having that again either. I would be interested in trying their Smoked Pork Loin (5.75cuc) and the Lamb or Pork Chops (3.50cuc). The grilled meats are done on a charcoal grill in the middle of the restaurant, pictured below. There were some specials worth noting that were posted on a chalkboard on the patio, namely the whole fish (12cuc), that would have been something else I would have tried.
                It's a huge space with lots of large groups showing up of either tourists or local youth or families. Smoking is permitted indoors, cigar smoking as well. I have never had a problem with service in the 4 or 5 times that I have been there. They have 50-60 staff on payroll at any given time and at any time, day or night that I've visited, there has never been a problem with my getting service. Servers have a uniform, black pants, white shirt and an apron with the restaurant's name on it. For now all is very professional, the food, service and availability of product, lets hope it continues to be that way. This is definitely one of the places that I will be visiting on every trip I take to Havana.

Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco
Ave Puerto y San Pedro, La Habana
tel. (7)8647780

The 'Beer Sandwich' (5cuc)

Pork Skewer (4.50cuc)

Pork Ribs (3.50cuc)

Sausage Board ....ham, chorizo & blood sausage (5cuc)

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