The story goes that Santa Catalina-born Rafael Juan Roc made his fortune in Cuba before returning to build the early 20th-century landmark that now houses the Hostal Cuba Hotel and its eponymous restaurant. And its elegant Art Deco facade would certainly not look out of place in old town Havana, though visitors expecting to be transported to the colourful Cuban capital once inside might be disappointed.
That’s not to say it’s not a pleasure stepping from the busy Avenida Argentina into the calm and civilised ambience of Hostal Cuba Restaurant. Wood panelling, oversize Edison bulbs, and patterned tiling combine with sharply-dressed staff to establish a smart, timeless atmosphere; moody jazz-themed photos and industrial-chic touches provide a scattering of cool.
Dominating one wall, the a la carte menu is writ large on a floor-to-ceiling blackboard. It’s mostly made for sharing, with a couple dozen options that cover most Spanish tapas standards, plus a few more elaborate dishes. An extensive breakfast and well-priced lunchtime set menus are also available.
Arriving in a Jenga-style stack topped with a quivering dollop of fiery mayo, their patatas bravas are as artfully presented as they are tasty. Another Iberian favourite came in the form of their calamares, with a light and crispy coating – certainly more tempura than chip-shop batter – and fresh squid that yielded easily to the tooth.
Next was grilled salmon, a sizeable slab of pink flank accompanied by a trio of asparagus al dente. The sprig of fresh dill should have been more than garnish, but the puddle of subtle lemongrass sauce provided an unobtrusive backdrop to the delicately flavoured fish.
The meal then sidestepped gracefully to the steak course, a cube of filet mignon crowned with seared foie and surrounded by a shallow moat of Pedro Ximenez reduction. The beef was perfectly cooked, browned on each side and with a perfect blush of pink in the centre.
Pintxo de tortilla followed, served in a tiny pan with accompanying ramallet tomato toast. While the omelette was fabulously fluffy, the bread had been charred around the edge. An odd oversight for what had so far been an impeccably presented meal.
Though a little too full by this stage to properly enjoy the grilled octopus, there was little to find fault with this paprika-dusted Galician favourite. We did find space for dessert, however. While the Tiramisu Cuba was piled high with chocolate shavings, it was put firmly in the shade by the NY cheesecake: a lavish wedge of New York cheesecake with buttery biscuit base and a cascade of summer fruit coulis. A slice of heaven.
The aim of head chef Guillermo Rodríguez is that “each dish that leaves the kitchen meets the high quality the customer expects.” Singed toast apart, this goal was more than satisfactorily achieved. They’re not reinventing the wheel at the Hostal Cuba Restaurant, rather composing fine examples of classic dishes that let the principal ingredient play the central role. You won’t find anything revolutionary or indeed Cuban here, but quality cooking at reasonable prices, whose popularity with the locals – as much as passing tourist trade – is proof enough that it’s worthy of a visit.
More about Hostal Cuba
Stylish hotel with comfortable rooms, cocktail bar with views, gourmet restaurant & club, the Hotel Hostal Cuba is a must-stop location in Santa Catalina. […] Hotel Hostal Cuba in Palma