La Paella – an Unchained Melody

La Paella – an Unchained Melody

We found a splendid little oasis of calm called La Paella located at the Hostal Valencia, between Clles Lamparilla and Obrapia in Old Havana. We had walked quite some time from the crafts market down to the Cathedral Plaza and this was a great place to relax, cool off and recharge.

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The restaurant’s design is typically Andalusian. The interior is dark and sombre.But at the heart, a beautiful courtyard flourishes with vines and plants and color.

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An architectural Heathcliff.

The food was very good, really quite authentic but slightly meager in the chicken/ vegetable to rice ratio. However, the rice was very well cooked, sticky and not hard. In all the meal tasted great.

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The Cuban trio came round and serenaded us.  I must say that these were best ones that we encountered in Cuba and boy we met a few. The lead singer had an incredibly delicate voice and we loved it so much that we had to request a CD.The whole atmosphere was great and we smiled when we heard a large group sing along to a wonderful rendition of Unchained Melody.

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Dinner at Roof Gardens Hotel Sevilla Havana

Dinner at Roof Gardens Hotel Sevilla Havana

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The Roof Gardens of Hotel Sevilla was once the hotel’s grand ballroom, now an enormous and supremely elegant restaurant with great views of the city and the sea.

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If you can get a table next to one of the balconies and you can enjoy the blissful ocean breezes.

The creative French-inspired menu and stunning setting make this one of the finest dining options in Havana. The dining area has massively high ceilings with windows lining the walls, marble floors and chandeliers. Entrees range from $15 to $35 and include dishes such as lobster stewed in rum and monkfish in basil-curry sauce.The menu is quite limited though and the price it is expensive compared to other restaurants in Havana.

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The portions were reasonable compared to most french cuisine served and the vegetables and  lobster which we had were fresh.

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We had the privilege of being serenaded by opera singers, the soprano in particular was incredible. The  whole atmosphere was the the epitome of elegance and class. A night to remember.

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Sumptuous Lunch at El Floridita

Sumptuous Lunch at El Floridita

The interior of the restaurant was exquisite. Murals adorn the walls, velvet curtains hang heavily, separating the dinners from the noisy hustle and bustle of the El Floridita bar where musicians play and frozen Daiquiris are served. A great way to relax and sample the best of Cuba.Magnum Champagne bottles are lined up, the walls are adorned with murals. The decor is very 1950s, very seductive, very luxurious. The whole experience was wonderful and I would definitely recommend it.

The service was incredible. I am going to be like a child and talk about my favorite part of the meal, the dessert, first. Order the frozen Alaska and you will get a flambe display that you will never forget. At least I never will. The waiter wheels in a table with paraphernalia, liquors, a frying pan and stove. The signal is given and someone dims the lights. Your pudding is turned into a show for all the dinners to enjoy, but remember the most important thing, that only you will get to eat it! The show last around 5-10 minutes and the pudding is only $6. The fruit platter can also be flambeed if you are going for a lighter end to the very filling meal.

We ordered some of the lighter, smaller meals that were on offer. That evening we were preparing for the New Year’s Eve 7 course dinner banquet held in the Cathedral plaza. The presentation was lovely, the seafood was plentiful, although could have been a bit fresher. The bar was full but the restaurant was fairly empty so we had ample time and space to enjoy the surroundings and the atmosphere.

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See also Frozen Daiquiris at El Floridita for more pictures and information on the front bar