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Restaurants & Bars 6

Habana

mcchowhound | Jun 7, 2003 07:12 PM

I don't think I've seen anything on the Board about Habana, a newish restaurant on Van Ness (between Jackson and Pacific.) If so, I'm happy to be the bearer of good news.

My husband and I had to go to a reception nearby, and were looking dinner in that neighborhood. Despite the potentially cheesy concept (Havana in 1948), we decided to try it. (Don't judge this place by the website!) I though it was amazingly good.

There are three rooms, decorated in Hemingway-period Cuban style. It could have looked like the El Cubano Cafe set from "Guys and Dolls," but it's subtle enough that it works. Every table was taken on Friday night, with lots of people milling around in the bar area.

There is a large ceviche bar near the entryway, making three kinds of ceviche fresh when ordered ($7.95-$8.95 for a large parfait glass filled with it.) We had the shrimp with mango, jicama and papaya mint sauce. It had a bright, tangy taste - the chef didn't seem to be timid with the flavors.

For the main courses we had mango glazed ribs with jicama slaw ($17.95) and duck ($17.50) with tamarind chile glaze. Both were really good, with each of the flavors standing out from the others. By dessert, we thought we couldn't eat another bite, but how often are you going to find a wonderful banana flan and an even better lemon cream tart? The wine list was very good, with lots of Spanish wines in the $22 price range.

Service was also excellent. The owner, Sam DuVall, visited every table. When we said we were thinking about visiting Havana, he told us he'd just come back. He thinks the city is great, but doesn't have food as good as his. He may actually be right.

Link: http://www.habana1948.com/

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