The Drive’s Havana Now Looks Better, Tastes Better
Rattan lamps and plantain delights for days, y'all.
July 26, 2018
We stopped by Havana’s new-look, new-crew debut party Tuesday, and here’s everything you need to know.
Who: New owners, The Settlement Building “brand collective” (Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver Urban Winery and Postmark Brewing), which includes Managing Director/Partner Reuben Major, Co-founder/Partner Steve Thorp (who did all the design). Plus General Manager Miguel Garcia, Head Chef: Andrew Hounslow (formerly of Earls) and Theatre Manager: Alastair Cook.
The Inspo: Prior to the redesign, Major and Thorp took an authentico trip to Havana to eat their way through an off-the-beaten-track food-tinerary that included about 15 culinary stops a day (from street food to local home cooking) and some dangerously late-night art purchases that ended up turning out more than all right as you’ll see below.
What’s New: Havana’s strong suit was always its patio (still there) and its mojitos (the team orders about 5 kilos of fresh mint per week and has this writer considering going into the minty plant business), but the revamp saw a complete (delicious) overhaul of the menu and that formerly dark mystery cavern before the theatre is now a cool, open-concept hangout awash in Cuban pastels, palm-leaf motifs and crowned with a dozen or so beachy keep-the-rum-cocktails-coming rattan pendant lights. We dig. (Fear not, sentimental public, the scratched graffiti wall is still in tact! Your “J+B” and “Steve Rules” etches shall live on, perhaps forever.)
Eat These: My favourites from the new Havana-with-West-Coast-touches menu, in order
Tostones de Aguacate a.k.a. Avocado Tostones ($11). Thick twice-fried plantain chips topped with fresh-to-death pico de gallo, creamy avocado and cotija cheese sprinkles. Verdict: HEAVEN, order a plate and share with no one; overheard: “That avo is fresh AF.” Cubano sandwich ($14). Verdict: The salty porchetta and honey ham to zippy dill pickles, yellow mustard and Swiss ratio is on point—loved every bite. Flatbread Vegetariano ($15). Delightfully smoky, fresh and super-loaded with cohiba sauce, cashew cheese, charred corn, calabaza squash and roasted cauliflower. Ceviche ($15). Verdict: The crunchy sweetness of plantain chips with the citrus-marinated Ocean Wise prawns, tomato, scallion and fresno chili is a winner. Flatbread Lechón ($15). Verdict: Your basic B to go with beers who won’t do you no wrong: salty porchetta, sweet plantains, generous white cheddar and mojo onions piled on top of soft flatbread. Pretty plantain-forward, just FYI. To Drink: The mojitos are fresh and not too sweet, but while it’s this hot outside I’m cooling down with the tart and fruit-punch-esque Jungle Bird ($14), which is dark rum, campari, pineapple juice and lime juice in the cutest cocktail glass you ever did see.
Address: 1212 Commercial Dr.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 12 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Seating capacity (because it’s fun to know things): 73 inside, 34 patio
Square footage (incl. theatre): 4,752 square feet
The New Look
They’re calling it, “Mexico meets Cuba” and we. Are. Into it.