Havana Cafe and Bar
The Gordon House Hotel, 5, Battery Street, Mumbai Apollo Bunder
Meal for two:?Rs 1,000
Apologies are due. The Havana Cafe and Bar is one of those places where it’s a disadvantage to read a review written by a teetotaller, for it’s a new Mumbai nightspot. The tables sport pink drinks topped with cherries, and rums bedecked with apple slices. But we are here for the food. And an hour later we agree that while the food is nice, the atmosphere is brilliant. A steep wooden staircase leads to the large, high-ceilinged lounge and bar. The walls are a distressed brick red, adorned with cheesy-vintage posters of old Hollywood flicks like Moonlight in Havana and Girl from Havana; black-and-white pictures of that city; and paintings of...Che. Pastel-painted pillars, old fans, vintage flooring and a stone fountain add to the mood. During the day, Havana has a snacky menu. But at lunch it offers a value-for-money buffet (Rs 500 per head). The spread includes soup, salads—some South American, some Italian and some Middle-Eastern—and hot cubano sandwiches made to order. The roast chicken and toasted tortilla salad was packed with fresh vegetables and flavour. The caramelised apple and zucchini salad was sweet and unusual, as was the roasted pumpkin salad tossed with barley and baby tomatoes. The pineapple and watermelon chunks dressed with ginger were refreshing, as was the cucumber and pomegranate salad. So it was unfortunate that the chicken and leek soup should be lukewarm on arrival, and that the breads and bruschettas were stale. By contrast, the Grilled Fish Cubano with mustard was warm, fresh and delicately flavoured. While the Chicken Nugget Cubano came with a zingy salsa and plenty of melted cheese. As were the mini mousses and eclairs on offer as dessert. And the superb lemon and berry Iced Teas (Rs 75). If we return it will not be for the food but for the high ceilings, the creative decor and the coasters that promise: at Havana when you can’t find a party you throw one.