When I think of Cuba, food is not one of the first few things which pops into my mind. Perhaps the Cubano, but other than that, I personally did not know about the multiple delicacies of this island, or the fact the rum infused Cuba Libre is the national drink.
Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar (the name makes perfect sense to me now) has a decor replicating the streets, apartments and essence of Cuba. From the moment you walk in, the scene changes – you enter in the streets of Havana, decorated with Cuban balconies strewed with plants across the walls. Then a well needed bar right below, because where will they make the Cuba Libres.
The food, which of course is the main part, was a very unique experience for me. My friend and I decided to try Tropical Chips and Trio of Dips consisting of malanga and plantain chips with roasted cauliflower hummus, black bean hummus and Cuba Libre salsa. The roasted cauliflower hummus was delightful, especially with the curried onions sprinkled on top adding a salty, crunchy aspect to the dip. On the other hand, unfortunately they fell flat on the salsa. My hope was that there would be another intricate flavor in the Cuban salsa, differentiating themselves from others, but unfortunately it was unseasoned and quite boring.
For the main meal, we shared the lunch special of Pio Pio Pio. Yes it is chicken three times over, so quite spot on with the name of the dish. The mini chicken hors d’oeuvres were Chicken Croquetas Salad, Mama Amelia’s Empanada and Chicken A La Plancha. I’m a major chickenoholic, so this could not be more perfect for my strange diet.
The Chicken Croquetas were excellent – crispy on the outside and soft and creamy inside, just how it should be. The salad however, was unnecessary and not great at all. Just a bunch of lettuce that did not fit well with the croquetas. The empanada was a top notch chicken as well. The perfect amount of dough to chicken and cheese ratio, and, it is very tough to dislike anything with cheese. Lastly, the Chicken A La Plancha was exciting for me, this was something quite different to what I had tried in other places before, and I am always thrilled by new tastes. The chicken with the mango dipping sauce was decent, but a little too dry for my liking. Unfortunately, I was not too thrilled with my chicken dish.
Overall, the ambiance and decor were lovely, I think perhaps I was unfortunate to pick the wrong items. I should have gone for more traditional Cuban foods, but I would definitely not rule going back and giving it another go. I didn’t manage to have the Cuba Libre, so I suppose its a must that I return for that.