Havana Café is a great place to beat the winter blues
When the weather outside is frightful, people get the urge to fly south for vacation. But if a trip somewhere warm isn’t in the cards, why not just go for a taste of something tropical? Havana Café in Old Ottawa South is a much more affordable way to break out of the winter doldrums.
Havana’s cheerful decor is sure to lift your mood. The place is decorated with bright red walls, plenty of plants in the window and large black-and-white prints of Cuban street photography.
Every item on the menu can be had for under $12, making Havana Café a great option for budget-conscious diners. Even better, the generous portion sizes make a good deal into a great one.
Though tempted by the ropa vieja and the picadillo, I opted for the pork tamale, which came with some crispy fried yucca, plantains, black beans and rice, as well as a simple salad dressed with mango vinaigrette. The tamale was light in texture, studded with tender bits of pork, wrapped in cornhusks and topped with sautéed zucchini and red peppers. The mild flavour of the tamale benefited greatly from the fiery hot sauce that the waitress provided on the side. I washed it all down with a café con leche and refreshing mojito lemonade.
My date’s cilantro chicken was equally delicious, though biting into the odd bit of bone might be off-putting to some. The chicken had a lovely tang from a heavy dose of lime juice. The chicken also came with sweet plantains, black beans and rice, and more of their incredibly delicious fried yucca. If you love fries (and who doesn’t?) you’ve got to try the yucca. It’s crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.
Though there is only one dessert available, at just $2.50 a slice, their lemon coconut bar is well worth ordering. It’s served with artistically drizzled mango and guava sauces and dusted with shredded coconut. The lemon flavour is offset with just the right amount of sweetness, while the tropical fruit sauces elevate the dish from ordinary to extraordinary.
Our waitress had an infectiously cheerful disposition; on our way out of the restaurant she informed us about a breakfast buffet available on the weekend. We were welcomed to try their fresh omelettes and dulce de leche croissants, which I look forward to sampling soon.
Havana Café and Catering
1200 Bank St.
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