LONDON | Cubana Smithfield is the new location of the popular Cuban restaurant in Waterloo, and when we were invited to check out the new spot, we happily accepted the opportunity to escape the cold and somewhat transport ourselves to a sunnier place. Stepping through the glass door, we immediately swapped the gloomy cold of London for the vibrant sunny feel of Cuba. Colourful walls, casual bar stools next to beer and rum barrels, and festive live Cuban music all help set the scene. Past the bar, the restaurant opens up to a fun space with high ceilings and on theme decorations, and our seating gave us prime position to watch life going on in the open kitchen, our drinks being mixed at the bar, and the live band embracing the festive vibe. So far so good, and we really felt like we were in our own little slice of Cuba (or how we imagine it would be). But what about the food?
As barbecue lovers, our focus turned to this part of the menu. We ordered Pincho de gambas (skewer of prawns marinated in guava, ginger, honey, fresh lime juice and spices), and Parilla mixta con ensalada (char-grilled strips of marinated prime-aged British sirloin steak, free-range chicken breast and organic chorizo on a bed of seasonal leaves and fresh tomato). We could taste the freshness of the ingredients, all cooked to the perfect texture, and blended with a house-made tomato salsa that packed a nice kick.
To accompany those protein-filled dishes, we also ordered falafel (with chickpeas, sweet potato, plantain and cilantro), and Pollo criollo (a Cuban classic of slow cook dish, free-range chicken, seared and casseroled in fresh orange, onions, garlic and sherry, served with plantain and black bean rice). Fried plantain on the side is also a must. The sides were very tasty, but the barbecue really is the standout here.
To cleanse your palate, there are delicious home-made gelatos on the menu, and if you want a drink, there are lots of theme appropriate cocktails on the menu, including seven different kinds of mojitos and some tasty frozen fruit smoothies. The coffee here is unexpectedly good too – beans are sourced from small growers in Cuba’s mountainous coffee growing region and roasted on-site at Cubana.
We really enjoyed our meal, and left with a smile on our faces. We will definitely be back here with friends for some more chilled out vibes, barbecue and mojitos.
59 Charterhouse Street
London EC1M 6HA
Telephone: 074 7496 8275
Mon – Thu: 8:00am to 11:00pm
Fri: 8:00am to 12:00am
Sat: 6:00pm to 12:00am