D’Doce opened on April 17, 2011. We turned up two days later having seen the large stylish sign outside and a pink glow from inside which was intriguing. It is located on the second floor in the front of a large apartment within a lovely art deco building on the outskirts of Vedado going towards Miramar just down from the Charles Chaplin cinema.
Unfortunately, the pink glow does not play as well from inside, since this is coming from large floor-to-ceiling pink drapes which close the space down. Once they are pulled back, though, there is a decent view outside and a feeling of liberating space through the long bank of clear glass stretching from one end to the other of the restaurant. The ceiling is high and even with the air-conditioning it seems well ventilated and airy. This is a comfortable, clean, uncluttered space. In many ways, it looks very non-Cuban given the typical propensity to collect, to accumulate, to display. This is different, simple, and straightforward.
The owner is David, a young Cuban guy who speaks perfect English. He has been out of the country for many years, working mostly in the Canary Islands and is one of the new breed of dynamic, entrepreneurial young Cubans who are using the relaxation of licensing to open new businesses. He seems smart, capable and is honest about the progress of this new venture so far.
The menu looks simply fabulous–it knocks me back slightly for the place is quiet. Put quite simply, this is the most attractive, comprehensive, best translated menu I have seen in Havana. Eclectic, international with a heavy Mediterranean flavour, the dishes sound fabulous: seafood casserole; almond fish steak with smashed plantain and sliced sweet potato; fish steak cooked in parsley with mashed potato and sliced plantain; Chateaubriand; Havana trilogy, roasted chicken with honey, lemon and nuts; Uruguayan steak; pumpkin soup with parmesan cheese; eggplant caviar with tomatoes and pumpkins…the menu goes on. There are more vegetarian dishes on offer (eight) than I have seen anywhere else in Havana and a range of desserts.
The explanation for this sumptuous menu is to be found through the main apartment into the kitchen where Vladimir Febles Fuentes is preparing dishes. I have come across him in the past at La Guarida and La Fontana (two of the best restaurants in Havana where he was head of the kitchen). He has teamed up with David to create something from scratch, somewhere where he would be able to express his cooking with more independence and freedom. We sampled a few bits and pieces and everything was tasty, fresh, cooked well.
This place will need a little time to find its feet. In the meantime, David has dropped some of the prices on the menu, which now represents extremely good-value quality food. This is somewhere to visit with a group–call David ahead of time and let him set up the décor and ambience as to how you like it. It is a great space with a good chef.