The joys of walking into a pristine boutique hotel where every corner is a piece of artwork is very much in evidence when you stroll into St Martins Lane hotel. You almost feel compelled to play with their giant chess pieces in their lobby.
We were on our way to check out Asia de Cuba‘s innovative ceviche and cocktail pairing menu. I remember the venue well when it first opened and was the talk of the town with its unique interpretation of what Cuban food would be like with Asian influences. Their homely bookshelves and walls filled with arty framed photos have survived their recent refurbishment.
What must be a more recent addition are the energetic Cuban art posters that adorn their main walls. There’s colour, passion and flair which is what you would expect in an upscale Cuban restaurant. There is also a giant poster with Havana Club which alludes to their close cooperation with the restaurant.Photo courtesy of Niall Clutton
Ceviche menus in restaurants are not a culinary surprise in most London restaurants these days, but I cannot recall seeing a ceviche and cocktail pairing menu. The version here is one of the most fascinating and well-constructed pairing menu you will find in town. It even comes with a glossily printed menu which explains their Chino-Latino philosophy and the tremendous heritage of Havana Club.
We went for the tasting menu where we tried smaller portions of all 5 ceviche and cocktail options. You might assume ceviche dishes are simple affairs, but their shrimp ceviche has no less than 12 ingredients. There’s heat, there’s vibrancy, there’s exoticism with fresno peppers, mojo amarillo and shiso leaf. It’s paired with superbly refreshing tocoroco cocktail which contained Selección de Maestros Rum, peach puree and sugar cane. The intense spicy flavours of the shrimp ceviche match invitingly with the complex notes of the rum.
What is common amongst the creations are that Cuban ceviche traditionally uses olive oil, garlic and lime whilst quite a few of their cocktails include sugar cane which is a Cuban staple. With health benefits like natural immune and energy booster, these cocktails along with the lean ceviche dishes are the perfect recipes for a superb night out for the diet and health-conscious.
Apart from taster portions, they also offer full-sized portions as well; if there are particular offerings you prefer more on your subsequent visits. Personally, I would be back to have full portion plates of their refreshing cobia and scallop ceviche.Photo courtesy of David Griffen
If you are looking to have an intimate date night or a catch-up with close friends, their ceviche and Havana Club cocktail pairing menu is one of the best offerings to consider in town.