One sunny evening recently, I paid a visit to The Cuban on the Harbourside, next to Millennium Square – and this colourful restaurant seemed like just the ticket for a spot of dinner and drinks on a summer’s eve.
This is a place that’s oft frequented by post-work drinkers, enticed by the array of cocktails on offer, but, when we arrived, we were surprised to find the spacious dining hall – complete with a stage used for Laughs comedy nights – looking a little empty. Even the outside seating was unoccupied, despite the gorgeous weather.
Anyway, we took up a booth inside and began with a couple of cocktails – a simple but well-executed classic Cuban mojito for me, with lots of fresh lime and mint, and a Hemingway daiquiri with plenty of rum and maraschino liqueur for Ben. Both were delicious.
When it came to starters, the selection was limited, but the portion of fried plantain and sweet potato crisps that we plumped for were crunchy and moreish. Seasoned with paprika, sea salt and cayenne pepper, and served with mayonnaise for dunking, they were quickly polished off.
Service was swift, and no sooner than our empty wooden board was taken away did our main courses arrive.
From the ‘speciality mains’ selection, I chose the sliced slow-roasted pork belly, served with sautéed spinach and chorizo. Although I’d hoped for tender, succulent meat with flavoursome accompaniments, what I actually got was pork that was lacking in flavour, and, although the piquancy of the chorizo helped, it was a disappointing dish overall.
Feeling especially hungry, Ben couldn’t resist the allure of a fillet steak, but he, too, was underwhelmed. The peri-peri fries were good, but the meat itself tasted of char and not a whole lot else, and the portion of coleslaw was almost as big as the steak. Presentation was peculiar – the juices seeped into the wooden board and there were too many ramekins and (this was definitely one for We Want Plates).
We went away thinking perhaps tapas would have been a better choice…
While I couldn’t say this place delivers on the promise of a ‘true Cuban experience’, and the food (nibbles aside) was forgettable, I’d still return for the two-for-one cocktail deal, coupled with some live music or comedy. The service was also a plus point – it was friendly and efficient – and the atmosphere picked up as the evening went on.
Unit 2, Building 11, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5SZ
We were guests of The Cuban, but we were under no obligation to write a positive review. They did not see this review before it was published.