The glamour of Cuba in the 1950s is legendary.
In the favoured holiday destination of movie stars and celebrities, at chic bars and stylish restaurants, tables were laden with food and mojitos flowed. Socialites partied on in a haze of cigar smoke, their drivers waiting outside in Studebakers lined along the street.
But trouble was brewing behind the scenes. It spilled over in 1959, Castro announcing that he would liberate Cuba from her oppressors. Revolution had arrived.
The subsequent United States trade embargo that lasted for fifty years necessitated that Cubans lived only on goods produced on their island.
Cuba had not always been a land of plenty for all its citizens. Following its colonisation by the Spanish, African slaves were imported to work plantations and mines. Through trade of both people and goods, French, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese cultures added to the Spanish and African culinary melting pot of the island nation, making Cuban cuisine an eclectic blend of many cultures.
“Though most of Cuba’s restaurants are now government owned, in privately owned paladares, where people open their homes to visitors through local contacts, you can taste the best food that Cuba has to offer,” Harley Amies tells us.
This is the cuisine that Harley experienced with her family while travelling the Caribbean; the food she recreates in her restaurants The Cuban and El Patio de Cuba.
By day, the menu of The Cuban Bar & Lounge Dining includes Cuban sandwiches or burgers with fillings of mojito chicken, shredded beef or pork and lamb, offering busy Broadbeach workers and tourists a place of cool, colourful respite.
Set against a vibrant mosaic of colours, the rich flavours of pre-revolutionary Cuban cuisine come to life on the diverse menu. Using fresh locally-sourced organic produce, The Cuban brings us the very best version of Cuban cuisine. Its luscious dishes carry the bold, mouth-tingling flavours of cumin, star anise, citrus, garlic and chilli.
Tapas include refreshing ceviche that tingles with freshness, red wine beef cheeks with chimichurri sauce, octopus with papatas bravas and capsicum basil pesto, spiced lamb cigars with mint yoghurt, tostone and empanadas.
Mains delve into Spanish-style slow-cooked meat with dishes including black beans, rice, lime, plantain bananas and Cuban spices in Paella Cubana, Santiago sizzle plate and the traditional Ropa Vieja. Mojito chicken is marinated in lime, mint and rum, capturing the flavours of a traditional Cuban mojito. Even steak (Churrasco) is presented Cuban style with spices, roast pumpkin, fried plantains and chimichurri sauce.
Some of the desserts, such as churros, are a direct take on Spanish cuisine. The French influence of The Cuban’s Head Chef Phillipe Amirouche fits right in, his personal touch especially seen in the caramel and pear tatin, its jammy richness a perfect match to a Cuban coffee, served black in a glass with milk and sugar being optional extras.
On weekends, particularly, The Cuban recreates the atmosphere and welcoming spirit of Cuba. Through its extensive cocktail list and banquet menus, The Cuban invites us to delve into the decadence and playfulness of the ‘50s, bringing back the sense of ‘joie de vivre’ and celebration. It’s a very well thought out escape.
103 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5526 9769
Open: Mon – Sun 11am – 11pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of The Cuban.