The Cuban, Bristol Harbourside: Review

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Mick Dickinson enjoys a meal for two on a wintry Sunday night. You can read more of Mick’s reviews here. He also apologises for the photos, but the lighting wasn’t great… 🙂


You’ll find The Cuban in the still-new Harbourside development off Canons Way. Overlooked by neighbours the Ibis Hotel and Tesco, the restaurant/bar is metres away from the water and in a broadly residential area. The Cuban took over the space vacated by Hooters a couple of years ago.

Such context might not sound too promising, but in my view this quarter of town has much to offer visitors. It’s got open, landscaped walkways, plenty of public benches, and many views over the docks. To me it feels surprisingly European. To be fair, my partner and I were in a good mood as we approached the restaurant, having just watched the amazing 150th birthday celebration fireworks for Brunel’s famous bridge from a top spot on Cumberland Basin.

The Cuban offers a very warm welcome indeed on a freezing Sunday evening. A blast of hot air hits you on entering, followed by very loud music. While waiting for a booth to come free we were able to take in the uptempo buzz of the place. To our left a salsa class was coming to an end and the dancers were shifting onto post-lesson party mode. To our right a long cocktail bar was busy with couples and friends.

The Cuban really is a cavernous place. The waiting staff must clock up kilometres every night from kitchen to table. Its decor combines touches of South American mural painting with a dash of Buena Vista Social Club, not forgetting a nod to Fidel Castro who appears in command amongst the giant pink flamingoes and citrus trees.

We selected tapas to start and happily the food arrived quickly, giving us a little time to sip at a delicious and rich Tilia Malbec. Arancini (made with Calaspara rice, peppers, onions, mushrooms, herbs and a small amount of chilli – £5.95) were rolled into its lovely spheres, filled with cheese and deep-fried: just the tonic to offset the arctic winds. Quesadillas (we chose chicken, cheddar and tomato – £6.95) were easy to eat, (no surprises there, then!). My highlight was the cold, grilled aubergine (£3.95), served with chilli, garlic, basil and lime. The aubergine offset the other dishes perfectly, and there was plenty on the plate so we felt happy to take our time in true tapas style.


The Cuban - Tapas


The tapas dishes on The Cuban’s menu are available individually priced, or on offer at three for £14.50, five for £24 or seven for £32.50, making them a great option for large groups of people.

After a short pause to glug some cool Cuban beer — and attempt to communicate over the increasingly deafening music — we shared a plate of Mojo kebabs (£13.95). The two skewers were sizzling hot to the table, a generous mix of lamb and chicken with pineapple and peppers, all served up with coleslaw plus a bowl of very good fries. It’s a good thing we didn’t order a second main course because we were totally stuffed by this point. Perhaps a shimmy round the dance floor with the Salsa couples would have helped, had we been able to move…


The Cuban - Beer


The Cuban offers a good value take on Cuban cuisine. The menu does offer island dishes cooked with traditional techniques; but also features a modern fusion or new cooking known as ‘Nuevo Cubano’. The bar is clearly well-stocked but, sadly, we did not have time or energy to begin to sample the 150 rums on offer.

Clearly The Cuban is not the place to go for a quiet, intimate date. But if you want music, great food, happy, raised voices and an endless range of Mojitos, then it’s well worth a visit.


Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.


One Response to The Cuban, Bristol Harbourside: Review

  1. Karen from Bristol

    “New Cuban” or old, there is nothing Cuban about the Cuban’s menu! Not a single thing. Really annoys me that people think this is Cuban food. Arancini? Nachos?!!! Cassoulet?

    I made it to the door of the Cuban and walked away once I had read the menu. It might be a nice bar that makes mojitos and serves food, but there isn’t any Cuban food to be had.

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