Commercial Drive is so great – it’s got wonderful shops, cafes, galleries, and restaurants. I think one of the landmark places on the drive has got to be Havana – it combines a pretty fresh dining experience with a hip gallery and even a theater, all within a vintage-looking hacienda and a prime patio perfectly located for people watching.
On any given night, you’ll see the patio packed with couples and small groups, enjoying pitchers of mojitos or other “authentic Cuban” cocktails – usually with a giant wooden spoon/muddler still in the pitcher for good measure. While we haven’t enjoyed drinks yet, we have had a few meals here, and so far so good!
We were greeted at the door by a nice, though very laid-back waiter (who like all the other waiters at Havana, honestly, I would have mistaken for a customer), and lead to a table right by the open windows inside the dining room. We looked over the menus that may seem a little small, but actually have quite a few options. Items are not cheap, but not overly expensive either.
First up: Tostones! This is a pretty big order of crisp, hot, slightly salty fried plantain chips – I really liked the chipotle mayo dip, but the green chile sauce was okay too (much better when mixed with some mayo). The container in which this dish was presented may look good, but it was a little hard to scoop up the bottom of the sauce from that little stand.
I don’t know how Chris did it, but he had more fries with his main course! At least he chose a healthier option by ordering The Drive Burger which was a veggie patty with guacamole, onions and peppers. The bun was the first thing I noticed when I snagged a bite – crispy crust and a good chewy bready inside – plus it was well toasted too. The veggie patty itself was okay – moist and well seasoned, with a slightly grilled crispy surface. It seemed to be more of a pressed grain & veggie patty than a soy/synthesized one, so that’s good. Fries were pretty good too, skinny and well seasoned/salty.
I felt pretty righteous ordering a salad for dinner, despite the fact that it was loaded with candied pecans and Goat’s Cheese! Yup, there’s no better way to make good food even better in my books than by adding slightly melty cheese!
I was very happy with my salad – it was nicely plated, with reasonably-sized pieces of lettuce and other veg. Generous amounts of “the good stuff” (e.g. the candied nuts, strawberries and cheese) and well dressed without being drenched in the very good champagne & ginger vinaigrette.
As noted above, it is a little more expensive than other options in the neighbourhood, but Havana’s food quality delivers for the price.