Robaina's plantation

Thursday 23 April 2015

Cafe Oriente (Plaza San Francisco, Havana) Restaurant Review

               I have walked by this restaurant many times over the last 12 years and have sat on the patio dozens of times to have a cocktail or two with it's excellent view of the Square. It's located almost in the middle of the Square with no obstructions to the view. I never thought of going in for dinner although I have used the bathroom on occasion. The set-up is first class, which is why I never thought to eat here. It's a state run restaurant and they always fail when they try to go first class in the restaurant industry (in my opinion). However, I have heard some positive feedback from people that have eaten here over the years and it just happen to be a convenient place on this particular afternoon.
                This space has been Cafe Oriente since 1997. Prior to that it had been a Cafeteria and a Kids Shoe Store. As I mentioned previously, the set-up is first class; table settings, furnishings, bar, piano player in the corner and waiters in tuxedos. Our waiter, Jesus, was also the sommelier but he was a lot more than that, an excellent server and a true professional. The Piano Player played Classical music or Movie hits, very elegant. 
                 I started with the fish carpaccio and enjoyed it but my girlfriend thought her Pumpkin Soup was a little thinner than how she would have liked, even though it was flavorful. The main courses could have been a bit better. I ordered the Lamb Stew and it was pretty good but the chef sprinkled dried rosemary on the meat just before he sent it out. I had to pick out all the rosemary before I could eat it. She had the Fish & Shrimp stew and we found the fish part to be a bit fishy (old) but the shrimp were ok. Dessert was the best, I had Jesus make the Baked Alaska at the table and he did a superb job. The wine list is very extensive & the wines are kept in good condition and sold at a reasonable price. The menu offerings were an abundant selection as well as the desserts that were placed on a separate menu next to a list of dessert wines which is presented to you after your meal.
                 For Cuba $93.75 for the 2 of us is a little expensive but we did have a great time and it's not where we would go every night. The ambiance and service far outweighed the quality of the food. I wasn't at all disappointed because it was exactly what I would have expected, better actually. We'll come back and try something else when there's a special occasion, we've already picked out the time when that will be. Give it a try but it isn't cheap. No smoking allowed inside.

Cafe Oriente
112 Oficios, La Habana
Phone: 537 8606686
Hours: noon-11pm

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