Restaurant review: Cuba Libra, Islington, N1

The pineapple stuffed with crab is a Cuban classic

The pineapple stuffed with crab is a Cuban classic - Credit: Archant

Cuba Libre recently received the prestigious accolade of best Cuban restaurant in the UK – and with it sitting right on my doorstep it seemed remiss not to give it a go.

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre - Credit: Archant

Never having been to Cuba I can’t comment on its authenticity, but the food is certainly a bit different from what you find elsewhere.

It gets busy, and it’s got a good vibe, without being rowdy.

The downside of this is, as we were late for our reservation, we had to sit in the bar to order. All fine, except we missed the tapas menu (only displayed on the walls of the restaurant).

No matter, there is plenty of choice ranging from the familiar, to the slightly odd (duck in tropical sauce).

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Our starters were big – the fried chorizo and aperitivos Cuba Libre platter were fine, while the calamari was lovely, smothered in a tangy white wine and garlic sauce.

For the mains, the intriguingly monikered “old rags” were delicious; shredded beef that has been braised in red wine for hours, making it tender and lending a deep, berried flavour.

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We had to try the pineapple stuffed with crab, avocado and cheese. It looked very impressive, but was something of an aquired taste; sweet and a peanut buttery, not eveyone’s cup of tea with sea food.

The pork in cumin was perfectly passable, while the spicy meatballs were a bit sickly after a couple of mouthfuls.

In truth, the UK’s best Cuban restaurant is a bit of a mixed bag – some of the dishes are great, some are a bit of let down.

It’s a busy, good fun kind of place though, and if you pick the right food you’ll have a great time.

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