Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dinner at Havana and Tomatina
Alameda, Calif.

Speaking of pigs, I had some very nice meals this weekend in Alameda. On Friday we checked out Havana, which is newly opened in what used to be a Vietnamese noodle place. (Warning: Their website has embedded music. Obnoxious. There's a controller on the upper right to turn it off.)

They've done up the place very attractively, with a bar at the front window (I wonder if the daylight is really good for the booze on those shelves, though).
We had about a 15 minute wait for a table, and I had a basic mojito from their long list of them. The service in the waiting area (which could use some gussying up, too; it's a bit sterile) was spotty; we had to ask twice to order drinks, and then a third server came up and asked us what we wanted after we'd already ordered. We also had to settle the bar tab before going to our table.
The mojito was good, if a little overly sweet. Needed more mint, too. The way mint grows, they could just requisition someone's back yard and have buckets of the stuff within weeks.

The main dining room is cozy and comfortable, with really fabulous large prints of Cuban photos on the walls. The service was attentive and our food arrived promptly. We started with garlic boniato fries that came with a barbecue sauce and chimichurri sauce. The fries were really yummy, and I adored the chimichurri. Great combo!

We ordered the paella and the halibut, though the latter turned out to be "blue striped sea bass" if I remember correctly (they were out of halibut or weren't able to get it). It was "plantain-crusted with tomatillo-avocado sauce." I would've liked more sauce, but it was good fish. I didn't try the paella. Afterward we hopped across the street for ice cream at Tucker's.

The next night we were at Tomatina, where I had lasagna and another mojito, this time made with soju, which is a rice liquor like vodka, but about 25 percent alcohol (as opposed to vodka's 37% minimum). A little on the sour side, and again, not enough mint, but I actually liked the lower alcohol content. Afterwards, Tucker's for more ice cream!
No food pics from Havana, as the light was too dim, and I forgot to shoot the lasagna (which looked as you would imagine, so you're not missing anything). I'd eat at Havana again, and hope they could work out some of their server issues. Tomatina is a good Italian standby.

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