Our last blog talked about the poor dining experience we had at an entertainment venue, Legends de Guarjirato. We don’t need (or want ) to rehash this disappointment so let’s move onto other dining experiences we had in Havana Cuba
Paladar Los Mercaderes. Havana has many paladars. These are privately owned restaurants, as opposed to government-owned venues. The Paladar Los Mercaderes provided a lovely meal in an equally lovely third-floor restaurant. We began with a pretty good lobster croquet (the lobster was limited and somewhat tough) with two dipping sauces, one sweet and sour, the other jalapeno). We both enjoyed our respective entrees.Tom had a lobster with pineapple (which had so much lobster that he struggled to finish it) and Joyce had octopus with black rice, which was also very good. The wine, an oaky, but nice 2012 Chilean chardonnay from Marquez de Casa. The only “negatives” were climbing 3 steep flights of stairs to get to the dining room and having to make reservations in advance to avoid a delay in dining (we made reservations that afternoon for the evening).
La Terraza. Most of the food at this rooftop restaurant is either cooked or finished on a huge outside wood-burning grill. Joyce had what had become a traditional dish for both of us—grilled lobster. (Although we certainly prefer cold-water, New England and Canadian lobsters, these warm-water lobster tails (they have no claws) were quite good, particularly compared with some of the more traditional Cuban dishes we had tried. They are also relatively reasonably priced, typically about $15-$20 for a large tail.) Tom ordered the house specialty—leg of lamb, despite the server telling it it was only served well done. As it turned out, the huge slab of charred, fall-off-the-bone meat, especially with the rich, lamb reduction sauce, was delicious. And it was so large that even Tom could not eat it all. This being said, we did manage to finish our wine, a 2013 Vina Mayor Cianza Tempranillo from Portugal’s Douro Valley.
Restaurants Paris. This pre-paid tour lunch gave us a choice of chicken leg, red snapper or pork. Although we didn’t find any of the options especially compelling, we chose the red snapper—and were both disappointed. This being said, the atmosphere of the restored palace was lovely and the salad and dessert were both pretty good. And the Crystal beer was reliably decent, if not especially exciting.
Café Bohemia. The small, unassuming café in a little square off Plaza Viejo. We both had very nice curried chicken breast, each served differently. Tom’s was warm, on a plate with salad. Joyce’s was cold on a roll with lettuce and tomato. Both were quite good and, as we discovered, both even went with mojitos!
We stayed at the Palacio Del Marques De San Felipe Y Santiago de Bejucal. The Old Havana location was perfect for us…right in San Francisco Plaza and a short walk throughout Old Havana. The room felt like a 3 star hotel but was clean and comfortable. And, unlike our last trip to Havana, the toilet had a toilet seat (no, we never figured out why toilets at government owned restaurants and hotels were often missing toilet seats). It had twin beds and was right above the open part of the hotel where people had dinner, the bar and breakfast. While the noise wasn’t too loud, you could hear the plates being cleared, the chairs scrapping the floor and the low hum of conversations. Still, it didn’t keep us from sleeping in that morning. We liked that the room had bathrobes too. You had a choice of breakfast items which included fruit, eggs, bread, etc. However, breakfast service is slow, slow, slow. You sit down, then wait for a menu, then wait to order. The food was also inconsistant. For example, the same omelet that Joyce ordered each day was prepared differently each day.
We also stayed at the hotel on our way back from visiting the rest of Cuba. This time, we requested a quiet room in the back of the hotel and slept well. The issue however was the shower. We didn’t have any hot water on the first day. On the second day, the water alternated between scalding hot and freezing cold water. It wasn’t exactly comfortable.
Our stay was decent in general. Not great, but OK. And the location was very good for us.