Friday, August 24, 2012

¡Ay, caramba! Havana in Louisville

Lunchtime at Havana Rhumba
      Sometimes a restaurant has so much personality you just can't wait to tell everyone you know.  Havana Rumba didn't project much of that when we drove up to its strip mall location in the St. Matthews area.  We were immediately welcomed by Anna who seated us and then returned to tell us she would be
our server.  Little did we know that would be the turning point.  Loaded with a complete knowledge of the menu offerings, an immediate connection with her customers, and a passion for convincing one that this place was unique even before any food was served, she provided our table an all-out lunchtime experience.

      As we learned, lunch is a great time to visit because all of the favorite dishes are on the menu.  Paul was set on a pork entrée because that was synonymous with Cuba to him.  There were a couple to choose from, but Anna steered him to the Masas de Puerco…marinated and fast fried for crunch on the outside, then topped with grilled onions.  Juicy throughout, the crispness added texture and flavor.  
Masas de Puerco
I knew I needed to be adventurous here and trust her suggestion, which ended up being the Pescado a la Parrilla.  That's grilled Swai fillet rubbed with cilantro, parsley, and garlic.  An almost neon green, it was shocking upon arrival, but the taste was so smooth and mild it really didn't need the garlic aioli served as an accompaniment.  

Pescado a la Parrilla
That actually tasted great mixed with congri, or black beans and rice, served with both of our lunches.  The presentation was different with each entrée, with one being both the beans and rice mixed together and nicely presented as a sculptured dome on the plate.  Mine was the same two ingredients, but the mixing was left to me.  The tastes were definitely different, but I truly think either way was fine.  Sweet plantains were also served and these were some of the finest I have ever tasted.  They were creamy throughout with just the right amount of caramelization.

Havanas Bananas
      I read the desserts to Paul and he immediately responded to Havanas Bananas, their signature.  Flambéed bananas with dark Cuban rum served over vanilla bean ice cream.  He was ordering before I finished my meal, but Anna slowed things down.  Presented in a chunky martini glass, the bananas were surrounded with other fresh fruits topped with mint leaves and Pirouline wafer cookies.  The sauce got a little too caramelized when hitting the glass, but who cares?  Afterwards, Anna told us that it wasn't even her favorite dessert.  Why didn't we ask? Her favorite…Tia's Flan, a family recipe.

     The décor is borderline Mexican, i.e. glazed tile and carved wood furniture with slightly toned down colors.  There are two locations, but this is the original.  If the sister venue in the Middletown area has anywhere close to the vibrance of this place, it might just be too much for one city!

Havana Rumba Cuban Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I love it when Neil throws in Spanish just to keep me on my toe pads!

1 comment:

k said...

i'm so glad you wrote about havana rumba!...i had one of the best meals here, during my visit to louisville..i sure wish we had one of these (and guaca mole, both related, by the way) in cincinnati! :)