[Miami Beach, Florida] Havana 1957

Our first experience of Cuban food. And, yes, Havana 1957 is a touristy restaurant on the very touristy Espanola Way. But, who cares – after all, we’re tourists. And I don’t care if the food is authentic or not. How would I know? I do care if it tastes good. And it does. It wasn’t wildly exciting food, but it was about to be a good dinner.

The place was packed and noisy. And tables can be very close together – almost touching. This is, definitely, not a place for a romantic meal or cosy chat.

To start, fried yucca sticks with a coriander sauce to dip them in. Yuca doesn’t taste of much – in the same way that potatoes can often not taste of much – so the dip certainly livened it up. Across the table, “cups” of green plaintain were deep fried till crisp and then filled with a minced beef and olive concoction – it was the better of the two starters.

For mains, ropas viejas is certainly a classic and was very flavoursome – but then what’s not to like about long cooked beef. It came with rice and black beans – the latter particularly delicious. The other dish – slow cooked chunks of pork was finished off in the frying pan to give something of a crisp coating. It was really good. The accompanying rice had been cooked with black beans so had taken on some of the bean colour, so it looked attractive as well as tasting good. And there was boiled yucca – not something I’d be in a rush to have again, as it had something of the consistency of wallpaper paste. We passed on dessert.