Cuba Absolutely Review: December 2012
Club Habana has a long and distinguished history as a beach club for the well heeled. Today it is the one and only beach club left which caters mostly to the expatriate community. The beach is pleasant, swimming pools nice (especially if you have kids) and tennis courts hum with activity. There are a couple of places to get food, the better of which is El Chelo, which is located in the main building on the first floor. While you can sit inside, why would you when there is a lovely terrace just off the beach, which lets you, sip a glass of wine while enjoying some shade from the noonday sun.
In terms of food and service, this place scores a pretty average rating. Staff here seems singularly incapable of multi-tasking but are diligent in completing their allotted tasks so food and drinks do come, simply at the rhythm of the place. When it arrives, a prawn cocktail or a steak is quite tasty but unexciting. Try the pan-fried foie gras as an appetizer. This is one of the only places where it is served in Havana. Good fried shrimp and mushrooms as well What makes it special is the two bottles of rose finished as the sun goes down. For where it is, prices are quite reasonable.
Mateo Speranza review
8 November 2012
‘El Chelo’ Restaurant, Club Havana (Miramar, Havana)
This restaurant is located in the Club Havana Residences in Miramar, Havana on the 5th Ave. Between Calle 188-192. Club Havana, as it’s called now, used to be the old Biltmore Yacht and Country Club, which was big in the 50’s. Today the apartments have been turned into residences for foreigners and the complex, which includes pools, a gym and a strip of beach, is open to the public for a $1500 annual fee or $20 per visit. It also has a bar, one of the best LCDH cigar shops in the city, boutiques and this excellent restaurant ‘El Chelo’ which are free to visit.
I really like this restaurant and have been coming here for several years. I hadn’t been here in almost 2 years however. I don’t ever remember having a bad experience here and this visit was no different. We had the pleasure of being served by Rudolfo, a very entertaining individual. As I recall, the last server we had was equally as entertaining. I always remember the Beef (steaks or filet) being good but we had neither this time. I also remember having the filet of sole on occasion and enjoyed it as well. The decor is nice enough, more formal looking but that doesn’t reflect the attire of the customer. Being on a beach (with a spacious patio area overlooking the ocean), the customer can be anything but formal sometimes but the waiter is wearing a bow tie. Rudolfo, as with any of our other servers, is well informed on the menu items and wine list, a professional. In so many places in Cuba, you get served by people who are young and unknowing (and don’t care); this is not one of them. The wine list is pretty good and the menu quite lengthy. As an added bonus, the prices are cheaper than most places of this caliber.
My date started out with something she orders in many places, the ‘Pimientos de Piquillo Relleno con Atun’, which is a Roast Pepper filled with a creamy Tuna. She liked it but enjoyed it more at the ‘El Templete’ restaurant. The reason she liked it better at the other place is because the Tuna was whipped into the mayo, at ‘El Chelo’ the Tuna remained in chunks. She did enjoy the flavor however. I had the ‘Pate Campesino’ which translated means a Farmer’s Pate. It was a pork base with mushrooms, bacon and dried fruit. Not quite like the Pate I’m used to having but not as heavy, I loved it and would do it again.
As a main course my date had the Bistec Solomillo, which was (or looked like) a shredded or ground steak, stuffed with cheese, breaded and fried. It looked like a Cordon Bleu. To be honest with you, it looked pretty good before she cut into it but didn’t look too appetizing once she did. The important thing was that she enjoyed it and she did. It seemed like way too much food and she wasn’t able to finish it. I had the Casuela de Mariscos which was like a fish stew. It was served in a terracotta bowl and accompanied with some white rice. There was shrimp, lobster and some unidentifiable fish. I took the shell off the lobster tail, cut everything up, added some white rice and made like a wet seafood risotto very tasty, another good meal. I would have my choices again.
The price?? Everything, including a nice bottle of Rose wine, one ice cream dessert, an espresso, mineral water and 10% gratuity (included on the bill) came out to $51.70cuc. Of course I gave Rudolfo a few extra dollars for his effort. That’s cheap in my book but most importantly, it was great as usual. I will, as I always have, return to this restaurant and would recommend it to anyone who asks. It’s a little out of the way but I’ve never seen it busy and it never disappoints.