This restaurant (paladar) has been on my list of eateries to visit for at least a year, it will have been open two years this august. The chef who's been here from the beginning, Dayron Avila Alfonso, used to be the chef at our favourite State-Run restaurant 'El Templete' in Old Havana. He spent some time cooking in Argentina before taking claim to the kitchen here at Otramanera. The presentation and attention to detail scored high points for me. It started with a little teaser of a balsamic drenched strawberry on a spot of yogurt beautifully presented no different as it would be in a more culinary affluent country. The thought to do this here hooked me off the hop. I've had Chicharita or Malanga fritters given to me as a starter more often than I can remember but this was not only thoughtful but unique and better presented than any previous attempts I've been witness to. When deciding what to order I spotted something I saw only one other time this past November, Rucola Salad. We had already decided what we were going to have as an appetizer but I wanted the salad to go in the middle of the table. It was topped with, among other things, cubed chicken breast Barbacoa style. The word Barbecue is derived from Barbacoa which comes from the Taino Indian's method of baking their meats. In other words the cubed chicken was sauted in a dusting of Cuban style BBQ sauce. I ordered the chicken on the side but found myself eating it regardless. The salad had a tasty dressing and was topped with toasted parmigiano crackers.....parmigiano cheese spread out on a cookie sheet and baked until it melts and almost burns making these tasty thin cheese wafers, beautifully done and nice touch. I don't like eggplant done this way but my girlfriend had the Eggplant appetizer, being a huge fan of this vegetable, she loved it. It consisted of seasoned sauted eggplant cubes topped with mozzarella and baked in the oven until the cheese melts. My appetizer was a braised rabbit that was exceptional by my standards, the pictures don't lie. My main course of boneless pork ribs would have been better with the bones but were by no means horrible. I will go with my second choice next time, the lamb braised in red wine. Her main course, although it was presented beautiful on the plate, was a little hard on the nose. I think the fish had seen better days but nobody was feeling any aftereffect later in the night. The desert was a different story, my girlfriend wasn't crazy about it because she thought it wasn't sweet enough. In my opinion, the Pannacotta was perfectly done, better than in some Italian restaurants in my country.
The wine list, if every wine is available, is pretty extensive by Cuban standards offering varying price ranges and countries of origin with something from the Wente Winery in the USA as well. I ordered a very nice Rose from Cote de Provence in France, the best place in the world for this kind of wine in my opinion. At 35cuc, it was a good deal in a restaurant of this caliber. I finished my night with a cigar and a Chilean version of an Ice Wine or Late Harvest wine, something you don't see that often if at all in Cuba.
The place is small with about 22 seats inside and 2 tables (smoking) outside on the patio where the bar is located. We had a drink at the bar while waiting for our table to be free. There was a good selection of alcohol and cocktails on the list with a proper bartender plying her trade. They even had Hendricks Gin….with tonic.
If I haven't been clear enough, we loved this place and for the time being at least it may just be our new favourite. I will definitely return and recommend it to others who don't mind spending a couple of extra bucks. The pics of the wine list are not complete below, that is to say there were a few more pages. The only drawback is the location, it's a little tricky to find by someone who's not familiar with the area. The address below is correct.
Calle 35 e/20 y 41
Playa, La Habana
tel. (53) 7 203 83 15
Balsamic Strawberry on a bed of Yogurt
Chicken Barbacoa (salad topping)
Fish Of The Day
Boneless Pork Ribs