Food24 eats at... Little Havana

Little Havana, Umhlanga has it all and so much more!

by: Janice Tripepi

The Granada Square in Umhlanga on KZN’s north Coast is ‘hotting’ up. In keeping with the culinary diaspora to the Northern suburbs, Little Havana the sister restaurant to The Havana Grill at the Suncoast, has opened in the centre; fabulous wine cellar, wet and dry aged meat and all!

You are greeted at the door by chic décor an elegant and contemporary colour palette, great ambient lighting, tables fully set with crisp white table cloths and black leather mats and a buzzing, happy atmosphere. The restaurant was full and their signature steaks fashioned from the very best meat available in KZN, were literally flying out of the kitchen on the plate laden arms of very busy waitrons.

Little Havana has it all in restaurant terms, 180 seats divided into an elegant private dining / conference room, central open plan dining area and a beautiful outdoor veranda that is perfect for our East Coast weather in both summer and winter. 

The menu

The menu has been tweaked slightly and boasts slow roasted belly of pork, duck and quail dishes that take full advantage of their wood fired open oven. TrickyRicky’s starter of Marco’s Open Prawn Samoosa (R60) was fantastic and worthy of a standing ovation. A stack of mille feuille style layers of crispy crunchy Samoosa Wrapper punctuated with prawns in a tomato curry sauce. The prawn curry had that deep rich prawn flavour thing going on that we both found to be pure perfection and the result of perfect spicing – hubby and I were virtually reduced to arm wrestling for the last mouthful. My Home cured Gravadlax with potato blini, pickled cucumber, dill and mustard (R60) was perfect and both starter portions were very generous in size. Hubby doesn’t drink at all so a restaurant that offers good wine by the glass is much appreciated and I sipped happily away on  a glass of Anura Chardonnay 2011 (R27) with my Gravadlax.

Best fillet. Ever.

The whole pace of our meal moved into overdrive with the Main course. Alex, our waiter all but sang his way through describing the meats and cuts of meat on offer and choirs of angels let loose as he proudly sang the praises of the fillet served on the bone. I was in like Flynn and before long I was enjoying quite the best piece of rare (500g) beef fillet that I have ever eaten; in my life; ever, Ever, Ever!  You simply must go and try this cut of meat as the flavour is exponentially improved by serving it with the bone still attached. Buonissimo! Ottimo! The fillet was served with perfectly smooth and creamy light mash, wilted spinach and a sauce of your choice; I had mine with Béarnaise Sauce and all that this dish will set you back is R145 which I believe to be an absolute bargain.  Paired with a delicious glass of Anura 2009 Merlot (R44) I was more than satisfied. Not a morsel of fillet left on my plate I had to threaten hubby with another arm wrestling competition before he would share his slow cooked crispy pork belly (R 130) served with roasted apple, bacon, thyme and mustard.  He loved it! 

We shared a Vanilla Panacotta topped with berries (R35) for dessert whilst we got to summing up our Little Havana Experience. The list of plus factors just went on and on – from excellent service, décor, ambience, comfy chairs to outstanding food and man sized generous portions thereof. It has to be said that Chef Dan Evans’ passion is well and truly infused into his cooking.  It comes as no surprise that he is the recipient of the first Michelin star ever awarded to a gastro-pub in England.

And although the restaurant owners, Martin Lombaard and Jose Goncalves have added a few new dishes to the Little Havana menu, they have essentially not messed with a winning formula.The Havana brand works! It works like a Bomba!

Follow @food24 and @janicetripepi on twitter.

- Janice Tripepi

Read more on: durban  |  janice tripepi  |  umhlanga

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