I couldn’t remember the last time I went to a Cuban restaurant. I’ve encountered decent take-out spots and places okay for a quick delivery order. I really like Sofrito, but it’s a bit on the pricier side and is definitely hard to get in easy for a prime dining night like a Friday. When I came across Havana NY, I thought it was worth checking out. Bonus that it is in Midtown West, an area which I’ve yet to find anything super impressive. Perhaps this would be it!
My friend and I arrived early enough to catch the tail end of their daily 5-7PM happy hour special (bar area only), which included $8 mojitos. They had the traditional, pineapple, coconut, and watermelon. I went with the watermelon, the ingredients of which included freshly prepared watermelon juice. Perfect spring beverage.
To start, we had the Havana NY Ensalada, which was mixed greens, mango, pineapple, and manchego cheese. Our server said it was their “signature salad”. It was on the larger side, and good to share between two. The manchego cheese was shredded – a first for me. It could have been a bit more plentiful to balance the sweet of the fruit, but overall the salad was perfect for a warm day. I didn’t realize until after we left that you had to ask for bread. I also passed several tables which had plates of the side order for tostones, whicih made me want to go back again ASAP. They looked just like the ones I had in Costa Rica!
For our main course, we chose to order two main dishes and to share them. We ordered the Chicharron de Pollo, which is lightly breaded seasoned pieces of chicken and the Bistec Churrasco, which was the grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Each dish came with maduros (sweet fried plantains) and our choice of rice and beans. We went with their arroz amarillo rather than the standard plain white rice. It wasn’t saffron rice, but similarly had a bit of spiciness to it. It was amazing.
The chicken was good – chicharron de pollo is my “go to” Cuban dish – but the breading was much heavier than usual. Tycpially it’s only lightly dusted with breading with a flavorful sauce. This one didn’t really have a lot of flavor to it, so it almost seemed like a completely different dish. It wasn’t bad, but just wasn’t as tasty and distinct as I’d expected.
The steak, however, was perfect. The portion size seemed larger than average for a skirt steak, which made it easy to split. It was cooked just to the right degree of done in the middle – just slightly pink for a request of medium. The chimichurri was perfect – a little spicier than the norm, with no complaints from this direction. I actually ended up putting some of the chimichurri into the rice as well (did I mention the rice was amazing?). The preparation of the plantains was excellent – they were cooked to the point of almost crispy at the tips.
We didn’t plan on having dessert, but once the menu came out we eventually caved. I pointed to the tres leches, which she’d actually never had. I tried to explain it, but didn’t do the best of jobs. Even if I have, it wouldn’t have been the best of sells. Does the thought of a dessert made of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream (thus tres leches or three milks) sound appealing at first glimpse? I know it didn’t to me, although I’m a definite convert after eating it countless times in Costa Rica. This one actually had a thin layer of icing, almost like a good old fashioned white sheet birthday cake. It’s definitely worth a dessert splurge if you usually hold back.
I was pleasantly surprised by Havana NY. The food quality was consistent and the pricing by NY standards was moderate, affording some flexibility in pricing for customers wanting to spend a little less or a little more. I’ll definitely be back here again shortly.
Havana NY – 27 West 38th St (between 5th & 6th Ave) – 212.944.0990
Reservations Recommended for Peak Dining Hours