La Havana, George's Street, Dublin Review

Monday, January 28, 2008

After travelling the world several times over working on super yachts and tasting some of the best and most diverse food on the planet there will always be a special place in my heart for Cuba, it's people and especially strangely it's food. The reason I say strangely is that for those of you not familiar with the Cuban political situation lets just say that Tesco's or Wallmart don't exactly have a shop on every corner. There are pretty much 2 ingredients that you will see with every meal in Cuba and they are rice and beans.Even ingredients like chicken and beef are rare commodities so to say that Cuban Chefs have very little to work with is an understatement. What they do turn out and the passion they have while earning next to nothing blows my mind. Now at the other end of the scale was La Havana on George's Street in Dublin which is one of many Cuban inspired restaurants popping up around the world.

La Havana sits on George's street in Dublin in what must be the the area most densely populated with restaurants in Ireland. We arrived by pure chance on a busy Saturday night looking for some fast food and lured in by the offer of jugs of mojitos and to be honest that is about as good as it got! Now don't get me wrong, I don't expect to be served poor quality rice and beans but I never saw chorizo once in the 3 weeks I spent eating out in Cuba but it featured 6 times on a limited and boring menu in La Havana. Not only was the chorizo heavily featured on the menu it also happened to be the nasty cheap variety that I suspected came straight out of a packet pre-sliced and my suspicions were confirmed when i saw a chef opening a packet as I walked by the kitchen! Now in fairness my sister can open a fecking packet of sliced meat, cut some bread and put it on a plate and she is only 10 but she doesn't charge me 10 Euros and call it tapas! You know what else wound me up? The prawns. Now I'm sorry but if you are going to serve prawns in a so called tapas bar its very simple; peel them, fry them in garlic, chili and lemon, toss in parsley and charge me what ever the hell you want to. When I go out I like to concentrate on conversation and drinking cocktails and resent the fact that I have to spend 10 minutes of my precious time peeling greasy tasteless prawns that some lazy chef has thrown on a plate and called them tapas!

One thing that I do have to mention is that the service was fantastic and one of the waitresses chased me down the street twice after I left my scarf and phone at the table so even if they havn't trained their chefs properly the staff have certainly know a thing or two about Cuban hospitality.

So if you are thinking of going to La Havana or any other poncy place claiming to be a Cuban Tapas bar this weekend I say don't bother and save up your money instead and go to the most magical country in the world!


Give me a Sizzler on