What with all this glorious summer sunshine we’re having, it’s the perfect excuse to be out and about basking in the sunshine, sipping on cocktails and maybe sharing a plate of tapas.
What luck, then, when an email popped in my inbox inviting me along to the Cuban on Bristol Harbourside!
Despite never visiting, I’d heard a bit about the Cuban before, and to be honest, they were mixed reviews. Deciding to leave judgement until I’d experienced things for myself, however, we took a trip down there on one sunny evening after work.
This place is huge. Situated in the same complex which houses a Pizza Express and just down the way from mega-restaurant Zaza Bazaar, this large establishment used to be Bristol’s home to American chain Hooters. It’s certainly big enough to house some epic parties – stepping inside over a large floor mural of Che Guevara, we were immediately greeted by the large bar and ‘cocktail area’, perfect for just having a quick drink on your way into town for a large one.
Despite all the cheery carnival-esque decor, we opted to sit outside in the sunshine, and ordered a cocktail whilst we perused the menu. This place is made for cocktails; I was pleasantly surprised to find that they make my absolute fave, a Zombie – a concoction of three different types of rum, pineapple juice and cinnamon spiced grenadine, enough to revive the undead. They also stock over 100 different varieties of rum! So far, so good…
The Cuban describes itself on its website as a ‘true Cuban experience’. Despite never having been to Cuba personally, glancing over their menu indicates something different. True, they seem to have borrowed certain elements of Caribbean and Southern American cuisine, but if you’re looking for the authentic Cuban experience, then sadly you won’t find it here.
Having said that, they do offer a decent selection of Latin-inspired favourites sure to please the whole family. We were in a sharing kind of mood, and so opted for a selection of their tapas. It took a lot of deliberating, but in the end we went for the Albondigas meatballs, Padron peppers, quesadilla, deep-fried cassava with spicy mayo, patatas bravas and grilled aubergine.
Firstly, I was very impressed at the sheer volume of food that we got. At 3 for £14.50 these dishes are a little on the pricey side, but with 6 dishes we got enough to feed a small army. The quality was a bit hit and miss – the meatballs and aubergine were awesome, but the quesadilla was a little lacking in spice (well, enough spice for our tastebuds) and we didn’t find any of our Padron peppers spicy at all, despite the menu promising 1 in 10 to be very, very hot. I guess we were unlucky!
Wanting to have the full Cuban experience, I managed to find room to squeeze a pudding in. Unfortunately, though, this is where it all went a bit downhill…
We ended up having to wait about 40 mins for it to be delivered, because our poor waitress, who was looking after the whole restaurant pretty much by herself, was taken back by a large birthday party who had just arrived. When it finally did get here, my ‘Cuban Mess’ was pretty underwhelming – a few scoops of ice cream with some crushed up meringue, banana slices and toffee sauce. Call me picky, but that is a poor excuse for a dessert *shakes head in sadness*.
So, what is the overall verdict? We had a bit of a hit and miss experience at the Cuban. The food was good, but we’ve eaten better tapas in the city. I’ve heard bad things about their mains, but I’ve yet to try it for myself. The bar staff happily let that poor waitress look after the restaurant by herself without checking on any tables, meaning we had to wait ages for our pud.
One good thing, though, was the cocktail that we had. Man, that was delicious. The bottom line is – I probably wouldn’t go back there to eat, but I would definitely stop by for a cocktail in the sun after work or for a boozy lunch, especially now they are running a 2-4-1 deal from 12-6.
Have you ever eaten at the Cuban? I’d love to hear what you think!
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary meal at the Cuban for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed are my own.