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Havana

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Neckarstaden 24 69117 Heidelberg

Havana, the capital of Cuba, is famously known for its nightlife.  Clubs and bars, Cuban cigars, salsa music, dancing, and mojitos.  With the exception of the smokes, this same Cuban nightlife has been brought over thousands of miles to, of all places, Heidelberg, Germany.  Visitors visiting this romantic city can experience a bit of Cuban culture and cuisine at Havana bar and restaurant, an establishment overlooking the calming waters of the Neckar River.

Havana shares the Stadthalle convention center building with the city’s Kongresshaus (congress house).  The towering building, built in the early 20th century, is an impressive sight from a distance.

 

The interior, though, looks even more stunning.  Grandiose pillars and archways, as well as finely decorated ceilings and walls, combine elements of Renaissance and Art Nouveau architecture and design.  Various framed black and whites hang from the walls around.  There are plenty of dark oak tables and chairs inside, enough to accommodate hundreds of diners.  In the center of the dining room is a very huge bar, with stools all around.  There are also booths along the walls.  Aside from a few potted trees inside the establishment and the cocktail napkin featuring an image of Che, you will hardly find any indication of Cuban culture or of anything Cuban.

The list of drinks is as huge as the building and as remarkable as the restaurant’s design.  Not only can you find your typical soft drinks, you can also order draught beers, bottled beers (Corona and Desperados), milk shakes, juices, and hot drinks.  From white to red wines, to sangria, champagne, whiskey, rum, and tequila, the list of alcoholic drinks goes on and on.  There are also assorted rum cocktails, such as mojitos, caipirinha, tequila cocktails, margaritas, and coladas.  Too early for alcohol?  There are a handful of alcohol free cocktails that are just as refreshing and delicious.

The ‘Tropicalisimo’ is a mixture of pineapple and passion fruit juice, pineapple and passion fruit syrup, and lime juice.  Served in a cocktail glass with slices of pineapple and melon, it is a energizing and cool drink for a hot, summer day.

Considering the expensive looking dining room, it’s surprising to find that most of the main courses are under 15 euros.  On the menu, written in both German and English, are different types of beef and pork steaks, chicken skewers and chicken breast, a seafood platter with fish, prawns, and calamari, rollitos (filled tortilla rolls), taquitos, and rice dishes.  For dessert, there are four sweets to choose from.

The Arroz con Pollo is remarkably flavorful for such a simple dish.  At 10,50 €, it is also reasonably priced and quite satisfying.  In Havana’s version of Arroz con Pollo, basmati rice is mixed together with thinly sliced carrots, fine shreds of cabbage, strips of green peppers, and chopped mushrooms.  Large chunks of grilled chicken breast fillets are combined with the rice.  On the side of the plate is a small side salad of lettuce, dressed in a light honey Dijon dressing.  Yogurt sauce, served in a small ramekin, also accompanies the dish.

The chicken breast, incredibly moist and tender, is cooked and seasoned perfectly.  It makes the yogurt sauce completely unnecessary.  Mushrooms are also juicy and add an extra dimension.  The vegetables do not get lost in the dish – the carrots add a nice crunch, the peppers a nice hint of sweetness.  The greens are a nice accompaniment and complete the meal.

The place seems to be a bit understaffed at times.  On one lunch visit, there was only one server on hand, responsible for taking orders, preparing all of the drinks, and also serving the dishes.  At these times, tracking down the waiter to merely order dessert or pay the bill can drag on for quite some time.  Compounding the problem is the lengthy wait time for the food.  The Arroz con Pollo took around 15 minutes from order to service.  Despite the huge responsibility and pressure, though, the server was still polite and friendly.  Nonetheless, some adjustments should be made in this area of service.

Havana is a great place to enjoy a night out with friends or share a romantic meal with a loved one.  The interior is stunning and magnificent.  While the food is a mixture of Latin American cuisines and not quite focused on one specific type, the dishes are executed well.  Despite the frustrating service, Havana does merit a visit based on its exciting atmosphere, extensive list of alcoholic beverages, and salsa evenings in the basement.

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Summary:

Situated near the Heidelberg Kongresshaus along the Neckar River, Havana is a Cuban restaurant, cervecería, and salsa club serving up an enormous selection of cocktails and alcoholic drinks as well as a good listing of Latin American style cuisine.  Very impressive interior.  Outdoor terrace seating with a beautiful view of the Neckar River during the summer months.  Sunday brunch buffet featured every weekend.

Hours: Monday – Thursday: 12:00 PM – 1:00 AM
            Fridays: 12:00 PM – 3:00 AM
            Saturdays: 11:00 AM – 3:00 AM
            Sunday: 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM

 

Overall – 4 stars

  • Tropicalisimo – 4/5
  • Arroz con Pollo – 4.5/5
  • Service – 3/5

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http://www.havana-heidelberg.de/

Written by geschmack

June 30th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Heidelberg

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