If you don't have the opportunity to escape to the south very often, there are some places here in Montreal that can make you feel like you are on vacation having a pleasant time..
This charming little café-bar-restaurant offers a simple but tasty cuisine, made with the island's star ingredients. Upon entering you get the sensation that you’ve discovered a local secret in Havana or upon returning from the beach. The room is immersed in a soft pink and turquoise light, harmonious and skillfully balanced. The typical decoration envelops us in a pleasant "tropical" atmosphere: patterned tiles, plants, mismatched chairs, wooden tables, and inscriptions on the wall as is found in Cuban streets.
Latin music is of course omnipresent, just enough to spread good mood and give a local touch to the dishes on the table.
LA habanera offers a range of small dishes at a reasonable price that can be enjoyed on a plate or as tapas to share. We choose the second option for its friendliness but also to be able to taste a maximum of dishes. The menu is tempting, the ingredients are familiar, but the mix of flavours, cooking and spices arouse our curiosity. Since we were two people, the smiling waitress advised us to take 4 or 5 tapas to share.
First off, we opt for the Ensalada de melon'melon, composed of honeydew, cantaloupe, cucumber, jalapeño, orange, pickled radishes, red onion, Thai basil, mint, coriander, escabeche cream and toasted corn. A fresh and very tangy blend, which goes perfectly with hot and spicy dishes.
We then choose two meats: Pollo a la criolla, a chicken braised with Creole sauce and fried onions as well as masitas of puerco fritas: cut pork squares, moros (spicy rice) and maduros (plantain banana), onions, fried black beans, lime teriyaki and spices. The chicken is perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the sauce is delicious, spicy but not too much. The generous pieces of pork are rather thick but well fried, which balances the meat flavour.
Whether for a drink or a meal, LA Habanera is a place to keep in mind to satisfy your desire to escape. Places are limited and the place is quite popular, remember to make your reservation!