Walking into Revolucion De Cuba is a different experience during the daytime on a Tuesday for someone who has been there on a night out.
Evenings on Saturdays and Sundays in the Peter Street venue are wall-to-wall revellers, some dancing towards the bar, some giggling over cocktails – everyone kicking up their heels to the salsa-inspired music like a holiday night out you’ll never forget.
On a midweek afternoon, the music remains the same, a Latin rhythm ebbing and flowing in the background of an otherwise quiet location.
We went for lunch, but one foot inside the door and we knew there would be cocktails. It just had that holiday vibe.
It’s just that sort of place, it makes you feel relaxed and looser – it makes you say ‘to hell with the hangover’ and order yet another boozy concoction which tastes dangerously close to fizzy pop.
We tried the Reggae Rum Punch, the Dark’n’Stormy, Like Guava Like Sun – a Mojito twist – a Berry Big Mojito, a Caipirinha and a Mad Hatter.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right – it was hard to keep track, especially as we got onto the last ones.
But each one came with friendly service and a lilting, joyful feeling in my heart – the afternoon-by-the-pool, sack-off-the-real-world feeling that holidays are for.
And this was about half a mile from the office.
The food is filling, and definitely not for bikini wearers.
“Latin American inspired dishes, made by mixing bold flavours, vibrant ingredients and Cuban passion. Cooked with our heart, to create food for the soul.”
That’s what they say, anyway.
We tucked into three shared ‘tapas’ starters (£14 for three, Monday-Saturday) of such heft that we really didn’t need to eat the rest of the meal.
The chicken quesadilla was crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, packed with meat, cheese, peppers and pineapple salsa.
My favourite, the calamari, was lightly battered and served with a pungently-flavoured garlic aioli, and the honey glazed courgettes, sweet potato and carrots brought the illusion of health to the table.
Main courses were easy to choose – since I’d first looked at the menu, burritos has been on my mind.
More Tex-Mex than Cuban, I fancied sinking my teeth into a big, porky tortilla (£9.50) packed with rice and beans and stodgy meaty loveliness.
In the event, there was a lot of rice, and it wasn’t as richly flavoured as I’d hoped. But it was big – I couldn’t finish it, the memory of those starters still British Bulldogging my appetite.
On the other side of the table, the Sunshine Salad (£10) with halloumi made my choice look positively piggy.
Avocado, peppers, asparagus, beetroot – topped with grilled halloumi – was full of flavour and freshness,a nd definitely won the ‘main’ round.
Dessert was always going to be in the shape of the signature churros for me, lightly fried batter a little like doughnuts, with caramel and chocolate for dipping.
Rich and light at the same time, it was wasted on me at that point, but definitely recommended.
My friend had a chocolate brownie with coconut ice cream, and it was as sweet and deep a flavour as it sounds.
There were big hits and little misses at Revolution De Cuba. But no matter what, the holiday vibe, relaxed and casual with a big serving of fun, never left us.
Then again, that might have been the cocktails.