Review: Havana Bar, Wellington
A taste of… Havana Bar, 32a-34 Wigan St, Te Aro, Wellington.
We'd heard… The popular haunt not only serves up delicious drinks, but has a pretty strong food offering to match.
We ordered… Sourdough with cultured butter and harissa ($4). However, the poor-performing harissa has been struck off the menu, and we were offered the more popular beef fat version instead. The bread was soft and fresh, the butter fluffy and savoury - leaving us unashamedly happy to have taken the rendered fat over low calorie spices.
Supple strands of apple sat alongside the citrus cured salmon ($17), housed under a firm rectangle of pickled radish. The result is a delicately-built crisp and zesty dish, balanced out with a hint of natural sweetness. The pile of potatoes ($10) were crispy, with a satisfyingly sour black vinegar aioli slightly underpinning the herb salt seasoning.
Braised wagyu beef brisket with celeriac puree($28), however, stole the show. Tender and melting, we were hit with a conversation-stopping wave of flavour.
For a spontaneous night out, we were pleasantly surprised - when one thinks of Havana Bar, you may picture dancing, drinking and of course coffee, but rarely the food.
The service… Brilliant. Our waitress was really intuitive and helpful, explaining straight away that the menu was tapas style, but offered to put in a word to the kitchen to make sure the potatoes came with our meat.
The vibe… Imagine your Cuba-obsessed friend worked through a mid-life crisis by turning their living room into a themed bar and managed to pull it off. Lamps and banquettes create the familiar feeling of being at home and a decked outdoor area complete with shelter and heaters makes it a welcoming space, even in winter.
If you go… It would be unforgivable to not have a tipple. There is some real talent behind the bar here and we loved the Trace of Nuts ($19). Walnut-infused bourbon with fresh grapefruit, honey and a spritz of lapsang souchong - think a long, sweet and smokey old fashioned.
Rating out of 5: 5