Looking up from the busy Calle 23, it is possible to spy this second-floor terrace. It looks interesting. Entering up the steep narrow staircase you will be forgiven for feeling claustrophobic. The place itself looks a little rough and ragged around the edges, ugly green corrugated iron provides the roof for the terrace while inside there is an air-conditioned salon with dirty Perspex windows looking out to the street below. It originally opened in 1996, closed in 1999 and reopened in October 2010. Its fare includes Creole and international food, and has a good selection of combos. The specialty of the house is the Mariscada, a seafood plate with lobster, shrimp and fish.
I immediately liked the place sitting down for a beer outside on the terrace. It seems authentic, less fake polish and more Cuban reality than many others. Roberto Cuenca and Hector Morejón, who make an interesting combination, run it. White and black, good friends, godparents to each other’s children. Roberto is a hablador (talker) and for those seeking some insight to all things Cuban, he is a great asset. The third-floor outdoor terrace is under development now (April 2011) and they plan to build a proper bar up there and put in more tables.
I started to slightly loose sympathy with this establishment reading the menu, more specifically looking at the prices. The food seemed OK but this is not the place to charge CUC 15 for a main course. The response of ‘yes, but how much does a lobster cost in your country?’ simply irked me further. Under further questioning, another menu appeared which is much, much cheaper: CUC 4-6 for a more standardized menu.
Deinelin Cantero Guerra is Hector’s wife and the chef. The daughters were also there when we visited, although it was not really clear who was working. She sought to point out that she wanted people to come back as much as possible, not just pay up and leave. Hector and Roberto seem to be somewhat more in a hurry to accelerate the financial rewards of the place and for this it may seem pushy and overpriced for some.
At the end of the day, authentic is as authentic does. If you want an insight to a different crowd from normal middle-class Vedado mansion-polished paladar, this will give you that and may even feed you well for a price.