Casa Lala

CA3
Style of food: Spanish/Mediterranean
Cost: Expensive
Type of place: Paladar (private)
Food
Ambience
Service
Value
Best for: Creative interesting food
Worst for: Not sure how it has fared since the chef, Ivan, left for Ivan Justo.
Calle 24 e/ 23 y 21. Vedado
(+53)7830 - 1410
Open 12m to 12a.m. every day
  • Havana Chef has had a makeover and a name change to Casa Lala. It has the same delicious menu (including the suckling pig that I talked about in a previous column), but with lower prices. The place is pleasant with an open space that manages to stay breeze and cool even during the hot Cuban summer. On top of all this, the service is very friendly. Do not miss the chorizos cooked in wine and the fresh pastas!

    Havana Chef has landed with a big splash on the Havana paladar scene in late 2011. For a while this was simply the best place to eat in Havana. There is no printed menu; instead the day’s menu is written up on a large blackboard. This lets the chef make lemon juice out of lemons so to speak. What they are able to obtain, fresh from the local fishermen or from local farmers, goes up as the daily menu. Realistically, many of the dishes are mainstays but there is always something new.

    The place itself is tricky to find the first time since it inhabits that limbo land in Vedado but not far enough in to be where everyone knows. Coming from Miramar over the iron bridge take the second right up 24. At the top end, it is a few blocks away from the Charlie Chaplin cinema. The restaurant is outside on a pleasant outdoor terrace, which seats a maximum of around perhaps 30 people. The décor is pleasant, simple, and clean without being too ornate. The service is good, quick, and competent.

    It is the food everyone is here for: the rollitos de salmón (salmon rolls), costillas de cordero (lamb ribs) and ensalada de pulpo (octopus salad) being outstanding appetizers. Main courses include de champignon and cheese risotto, lamb shoulder and special fish including when we were there an exquisite lionfish. Desserts are OK; the wine list ample and reasonably priced.

    I think that this is an especially great lunch place although it works OK for dinner if it is the food you are focused on. Be warned though that the baby lamb ribs while absolutely gorgeous are impossible to eat without getting messy Spanish style–you simply have to pick them up!

    Note that in mid 2012 the chef, Ivan left to set up Ivan Justo. There followed a few rocky months before the place re-found its footing with a slightly tweaked menu. We are happy to report that this is still a great place to eat.

    The suckling pig at Havana Chef. I am not a suckling pig person, but this was really good. My Spaniard dining accomplices (who really know about suckling pig) believed it’s one of the best in Havana, therefore, trusting their educated palates, it must be so. It was one of the youngest piglets I have ever seen cooked, the meat was tender and flavorful and the skin was crispy. To my horror, I witnessed a pair of Spaniards almost fighting for it’s little three-week-old head. On top of that, the paladar is great, service was amazing, and the food will be the subject of more “ups” in the future. Just bear in mind prices are a little bit in the high side.

    
  • La California

    La California  LH 5+

    La California Restaurant For quality food, impeccable service & intimate ambience Superb Cuban-Creole/International menu Dine in a beautifully restored 19th-century colonial building just one bloc …

    Opera

    Opera  LH 5+

    – Best for Homely & Intimate enviroment Quality food in a beautiful setting. – Fresh pasta, vegetarian dishes  and quail.

    Nazdarovie

    Nazdarovie  LH 5+

    I never really knew the Cuba from the days of Soviet support. My first memories of the island belong to a time that is very close to the Great Change, when we were already starting to see that what ha …

    Corte del Principe (Sergio’s)

    Corte del Principe (Sergio’s)  LH 5+

    La Corte del Principe has rocked up the pop charts in Havana on the back of quality authentic Italian fare. Located on a quiet street behind the lovely park (which runs from Calle 60 to 82 behind the …

    El Chanchullero

    El Chanchullero  LH 5+

    El Chanchullero has got to win the most surprisingly good place in Havana award. This looks like a hole in the wall place in a downright run down looking part of Old Havana. It is a hassle to get to b …

    Le Chansonnier

    Le Chansonnier  LH 5+

    When a delegation of chefs from Alice Waters’ celebrated Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley visited Cuba (November 2012) on a mission to spark a revolution in the Cuban diet by exposing islanders to …

    Santy

    Santy  LH 5

    On Santi, the mystical Santi. The one that can never speak its name. The one that everyone talks about but no one can find. The one you may be asked to park a few blocks away from and sneak in under c …

    Doña Eutimia

    Doña Eutimia  LH 5+

    It would take a hard heart indeed to be immune to the charms of Leticia, the owner of Doña Eutemia. Small, old, personal, she wants an intimate place where you come to relax. So much so, that she stat …

    Bikos

    Bikos  LH 5

    Bikos, which I am reliably, told means kisses opened in June 2013 on the site of the old Galeria paladar. This is pure Spanish food and has quickly established itself as the location of choice for Hav …

    La Carboncita

    La Carboncita  LH 5

    His is Walter Ginevri’s (the Italian pizza guy) new place in Havana, except that actually this Paladar is owned by Eneida, a pleasant, businesslike woman, who has lived for some time in the accompanyi …

    1 of 14 pages »