The atmosphere is electric. The décor and design are vibrantly reminiscent of Cuba’s colonial history. The setting is dockside Liverpool, with the sound of lapping water, and spirited Cuban music. And it is all beautiful. We had comfortable corner seating, that gave us a view of the surroundings. We took in the sweep of an intricate wrought iron staircase and balcony. It was Thursday evening, and the tables were filling rapidly. We glimpsed, beyond the columns, people dancing and lots of laughter.
Words: Jean Hill
The menu, in the form of a news-sheet, is packed full of ‘main plates’ and ‘little dishes’. We settle on a selection of tapas plates. We discover that there are layers of flavour in all the cooking. The charred Halloumi comes with butternut squash and courgette, with chilli jam glaze. The Halloumi has bite and delicious seared flavour and the jam is home-made, with a chilli kick that doesn’t take away from the whole. The Mojito prawns are fried in a signature light batter, which is crispy and crunchy. Lobster mayo, smooth, refreshing and authentic completes the dish. Delicious combination of flavours. The aubergine gratin, which I am going to try and recreate this evening, was inspired. Sliced aubergine and chilli cheese are slowly baked in a spicy black bean Bravas sauce. It is described as food that feeds the soul, and it certainly tasted that way.
The Nachos del Sol reveals layers of complementary flavours. The Tortilla chips are topped with Roquito pepper and Manchego cheese sauce, black beans, guacamole and mango salsa. We kept coming back to dig deeper, and the home-made guacamole was a perfect match for the mango salsa. Mango is one tropical fruit that could become an essential ingredient in my everyday cooking. The roasted pork tacos with caramelised pineapple and salsa was simpler, less layered. Tuesday to Sunday, three tapas cost £14. Six tapas would be the ideal number for two people.
We opted for cocktails. My expresso cocktail was perfect. It had a rich coffee kick that didn’t overwhelm, the warmth of Havana rum and a smooth as velvet, creamy consistency. Could quite easily become addicted. My companion chose the Dark ’N Stormy cocktail, where the rum floats above a refreshing Old Jamaica ginger beer, with a dash of lime. We threaded our way through the restaurant, and came upon the salsa dancers radiating sheer joy. This is a haven of fine food and fun, with pulsing rhythm and great attitude.
Tel: 0151 2036101
‘Dance me to the end of love’: Leonard Cohen
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