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REVIEW: Cubana, Waterloo

WHY GO? For a raucous party and rambunctious cocktails every night of the week. We headed to London’s Waterloo branch for mojitos, mole and morbidly bad dancing to live music – and here’s why you should too.

Cubana’s organic chorizo and sweet potato croquettes are reason enough to head South of the river, served with fresh homemade tomato salsa. Add frijoles negros (traditional Cuban black beans) and some red pepper hummus, and you’ve got a great selection of Cuban-style tapas, but we recommend a sharing platter to make things easier.

Next you must choose larger dishes from different sections – start with ‘Barbacoa’, referring to the native Cuban Indians’ method of cooking on an open fire (at Cubana, they use a robata grill). Go for Parilla Mixta (chargrilled strips of marinated prime-aged British sirloin steak, free-range chicken breast and organic chorizo on a bed of seasonal leaves and fresh tomato, with homemade salsa verde), or have a look at the slow-cooked Cuban kitchen food.

Cuban pork is a must, freshly roasted at lunchtime and ready for evening bookings (therefore only available around 1pm and after 6.30pm) it’s a mix of outdoor-reared Blythburg herd pork, marinated and slow roasted Cuban-style, served with Cuban black beans, chilli-rice and plantain.

Fish fans can opt for the likes of cod (seared and pan-baked with fresh cilantro, tomato, peppers, flat-leafed parsley, oregano, olives and a little chilli) or Creole-style prawns sauteed in a light tomato sofrito.

Now, onto the drinks. Brandin themselves ‘the home of mojitos’, it makes sense to at least try the signature Cuban cocktail – and a Cubana speciality. Fresh mint and freshly- squeezed lime juice are muddled with organic raw cane sugar, Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos rum and sparkling water. The name comes from ‘mojo’, meaning ”soul” in Cuban street slang – and you’ll feel full of it after ordering your second (and third).

Don’t leave without sampling a Café Cubana – coffee with Caney Carta Blanca rum, fresh cream and a hint of coconut. You’ll need one to get you home after a couple of those pitchers, trust us.

STAR DISH: Food is solid, but don’t head here for a gourmet meal –  think drinks, dancing then more drinking. Happy Hour is 4.00-7.00pm seven days a week, meaning two-for-one on selected cocktails (£5.50 each) including homemade Sangria or cocktails like Cuba Libre. Two jugs for £12!

DETAILS: 48 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7RG / 0747 4968 275 / reservations@cubana.co.uk / Cubana.co.uk

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