Dinner & Cocktails At Revolucion De Cuba, Nottingham
Pre- Covid, if you can stretch your memory back that far (?!), Revolucion De Cuba was always the place to go, whatever city you were in. Now that (finally) we are out of lockdown 3.0, The Man Bird and I were kindly invited by Cleo to go and let our hair down, just because we can! We went early evening, simply because we were already in that neck of the woods shopping; it made more sense to do it that way, rather than go back to Beak H.Q and then back into Nottingham.
We weren’t the only ones kicking the weekend off early, Revs was jumping! Groups of friends were shedding their workaday skins with pitchers of cocktails, or celebrating birthdays with a couple of cheeky Tapas dishes and some swanky cocktails, and their energy was palpable. I spied the colourful flower garlands at our table and wasted no time in piling them all around my neck and wrists – woo hoo, lockdown be gone!
Our lovely server, Freya, came over and took our cocktail orders: Raspberry Mojito for The Man and a Flamingo Collins for me, which actually comes in a pink Flamingo glass/cup!! OMG, I was beside myself with excitement when Freya told me that - I bloody LOVE ‘Mingo’s <3 <3. It wasn’t long before we were sipping our drinks and soaking up the atmosphere in Rev De Cuba, a.k.a Party Central.
For starters we went for a trio of Tapas: Chilli Plantano Bites, Chicken Quesadilla and Jerk Fried Chicken. Monday-Saturday you can get Tapas at the price of 3-4-£14 (on Sunday they’re 2-4-1); you’re certainly not going to have the bank manager knocking on your door with an overdraft bill at these prices. We’ve had the Chicken Quesadillas before and they were every bit as good as we remembered: crisp, crunchy Tortilla with melted cheese on the top and juicy shredded Chicken, Onion and Peppers inside. These are packed full of flavour; just the ticket to whet the appetite and get the juices flowing nicely.
Banana Blossom is enjoying its time in spotlight thanks to its versatility in meat-free cooking. This teardrop shaped plant grows at the end of a Banana cluster and is purple in colour with a slightly nutty taste. It can be eaten raw or, as in this instance, cooked and its surprisingly meaty texture makes it lovely and filling. The Chefs at RDC season it with Chipotle Chilli to add a superb smoky but spicy taste, and the softness of the mix contrasts fantastically against the fine textured outer coating that is fried to make it super-crispy. The trio of bites were served with Banana ketchup that brings a subtle sweetness to the dish, counter-balancing the sharper Chilli notes. Both of us really enjoyed these.
Our final Tapas choice was the Jerk Fried Chicken; from the description of “chicken pieces coated in Cajun spice and a jerk crumb” we were expecting some tongue-tingling action, and we weren’t disappointed! These popcorn sized minxes were certainly keeping our taste buds on full alert with their spicy tones and crunchy coating that wasn’t in the least bit greasy. As if this spice wasn’t enough, there were slices of fresh Red and Green Chillies liberally scattered over the bites too, and for a final flourish of Cuban joie-de-vivre there was the kicking Rum Mayo!
Our first cocktails had slipped down all too easily, so Freya came and took our orders for top-ups as she cleared away the empty Tapas bowls and our clean plates. This time His Nibs had an alcohol free mocktail, a Virgin Zombie Slayer, as he was driving I decided to go for one of RDCs new cocktail specials, the Guaquiri (a Daiquiri made with Guava juice, very, very nice let me just say). If you buy one of the new specials and upload a piccie to social platforms with the tag ‘take me to Cuba’ you might just win a trip to the famous island itself.
By now the evening was really getting going and Nottingham’s bright and beautiful folk were all out to play; and play they certainly could, thanks to the live band playing upbeat songs to encourage everyone to dance. It was lovely to see ladies all glammed up and the gents looking dapper; I hadn’t realised just how much I’d missed this through the various lockdowns until it was before my eyes again .We watched the good times unfold as we tucked into our mains: Beef Ropa Vieja (£10) for The Man and Paella de Cuba (£10.50) for yours truly.
The Beef Ropa Vieja is basically a Cuban beef stew; the shredded beef is slow-cooked with charred onions and mixed peppers in a tomato sauce that is then served on a bed of zesty rice and topped with strings of crispy fried onions that have that mesmerising intensity to their flavour. His Nibs was blown away by the tenderness of the beef, which seemed to be enhanced by the slight crunch of the vegetables. The Tomato sauce wasn’t just plain ol’ tomato; oh no, it had been given the Revolucion De Cuba treatment and was pimped with a variety of seasonings that came alive in the mouth! The bed of fluffy rice was deep enough to soak up all the delicious Ropa Vieja juices without it being the dominant memory of the dish. All too often, the cheaper grains are used to bulk out a meal which, being honest, leaves you feeling a bit cheated doesn’t it? I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case at Nottingham’s Revolucion De Cuba; there was a perfect balance of meat and grain.
I love Paella, especially the burnt bits of rice at the bottom (Socarrat), so I was a bit glum to see there wasn’t any of it to savour at RDC. My disappointment didn’t last long though as the first mouthful hit my palate; it was blooming delish! Both the chicken and prawns provided an appreciated sweetness, with cubes of Chorizo adding smoky and spicy tones to the mix. At first glance it didn’t look as though it was the biggest portion in the world, but this was testament to the fact that ‘looks can be deceptive’! I seemed to be digging in for what seemed an eternity and forkful after forkful seemed to be making no dint in the depth of the dish; eventually though my efforts and persistence paid off and I saw the bottom of the bowl.
Freya had been keeping a close eye on us all evening, checking that we were happy with our food and that we weren’t running short of drinks; we even communicated by good old fashioned signalling too (thumbs up’s across the room)! The whole team had been kept exceptionally busy; sometimes the influx of diners proved very challenging, but throughout it all they kept smiling and strove to offer their best service to customers. You can’t ask for more than that, can you?
We didn’t mind waiting a little longer than usual for our dessert order to be taken; after all, why go out to eat if you’re in a rush and aren’t going to get the most out of a venue? I saw the lull as the perfect opportunity to indulge in my favourite activity: people watching. His Nibs and I had decided to go for Churros for dessert; me more through accident than design as my first choice of Millionaire’s slice was no longer available. I consoled myself by going for the pimped up El Supremo Churros, which are the Spanish doughnut sticks filled with a Nutella-esque Chocolate and Hazelnut spread, whilst His Nibs had 5 plain Churros with a pair of dipping sauces: Chocolate and Rum Caramel.
My El Supremo Churros quintet were lovely and fat in size, served with fresh Raspberries and decorated with thick ribbons of dark chocolate sauce. The generous dusting of sugar that coated each doughnut stick gave a nice crunch as I bit into it and the filling was comfortingly soft, coating the inside of my mouth and tongue. The Man Bird was equally enamoured with his Churros; whilst they may not have had the decadent filling of their El Supremo peers, they had the benefit of two marvellous sauces that they got dunked into repeatedly by His Nibs. Even hardened chocoholics will be won over by the intensity of the dark chocolate dipping sauce, and I defy anyone not to love the silky caramel version with its rum heat afterglow. No surprise, then, when I tell you that not a grain of sugar or drizzle of sauce was left when we looked up from our dessert platters!
We rounded up the evening with a couple of black coffees, and whilst the coffee itself is lovely, the highlight has to be the bite-sized chunk of the wickedly gooey, rich Chocolate Brownie that accompanies each cup of hot beverage served at Revolucion De Cuba.
Yet again we’d had a cracking evening at Nottingham’s Revolucion De Cuba; every time we’ve visited the food and service has been great. This time I think the team have done marvellously in the face of the current ‘ping-demic’ that is seeing venues struggle with staffing levels, so a big ‘well done’ to them all. Hot Wings happily given here again, and thank you for inviting us along.