Hearing people rave about Asia de Cuba had given me high expectations. We finally went this week to celebrate my birthday. It didn’t live up to the eulogising.
It would be easy to walk straight past, if you didn’t know that Asia de Cuba was inside the inconspicuously sign-posted St Martin’s Lane Hotel (a grey block).
You go through the soulless hotel reception to get to Asia de Cuba at the back. If you can get over the hotelish, impersonal atmosphere you might like the cylindrical towers positioned throughout the restaurant, covered in book shelves and pictures that add an element of style and homeliness.
We had a couple of rum cocktails while we read the menu, one served creatively in a chunky jar.
Concentrating on design and style Asia de Cuba seems to be attempting to be swanky, and while the wooden chairs may match the book shelves they’re extremely uncomfortable to sit in.
The pre-theatre prix fixe menu is currently £27.00 for three courses (check the website for various menus including the a la carte dinner menu).
For appetizers K had crab coquetas: jicama (a root vegetable that looks like a turnip), mango and mirin infused slaw with roasted red pepper rémoulade (or, as LardButty might’ve described it: a bite-size sample of deep-fried crab in breadcrumbs on a whisper of shredded fruit/veg – if you’d like more than a quarter of a plate of food, don’t order this) and I had calamari salad Asia de Cuba: crispy calamari, chayote, hearts of palm, banana (??) cashews, chicory and radicchio with sesame orange dressing (an unusual mix of flavours, particularly banana which didn’t go) served in oddly sized portions (K’s was tiny and he wanted more, while mine was generous and I was full after the starter).
For entrées K had seared tuna and I had Cuban BBQ chicken (slightly dry, bland and disappointing), with a side order of wok sautéed Asian and Caribbean vegetables (all distinctly average, dishes weren’t quite as exciting to eat as they were to read on the menu. And bear in mind that the prix fixe ‘deal’ only includes a component of the main course; you have to order veg and any accompaniments as separate side orders). The tuna was more of a side dish portion than a main course so K still had an appetite – on the plus side we had enough room for desserts.
Neither of us have an especially sweet tooth and don’t often eat dessert but thoroughly enjoyed this break from normality. K had Cuban Opera (rich chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate butter cream, coffee mousse and coffee brittle ice cream) while I had Coconut Invasion (coconut, white chocolate grenache and rum flavoured banana layer cake with dulce de leche ice cream).
Asia de Cuba had been on my (mental) list of restaurants to try for years. Tick. It’s more about style than substance. I won’t hurry back.
After so many recommendations for this place and for so long, I can only assume I missed the party.
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Asian fusion
~ Address: St Martin’s Lane Hotel, 45 St Martins Lane, London
~ Postcode: WC2N 4HX
~ Tel: 020 7300 5588
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website: St Martin’s Lane Hotel website – has details of Asia de Cuba restaurant
~ Location: Hotel + Asia de Cuba restaurant map
Filed under: Asian fusion, Caribbean, LardButty food / restaurant reviews Tagged: | 3 / 5, 3/5, Asia de Cuba, Asian cuisine, Asian fusion, Lardbutty, Lardbutty restaurant reviews, London, St Martin's Lane, St Martin's Lane Hotel, Trafalgar Square, WC2N, WC2N 4HX