We were pretty unhappy with the new cuban joint in Union Square, Havana Central. The food was decent and leaves me curious enough to try it again, but the restaurant setup sucks. It can't decide if it's a fast-food joint or a real restaurant. It's got a bar, so it's not fast-food right. But's it's sorta like a cafeteria thing, where you order from different stations then sit at your table. But, of course, the place may be so crowded that you can't get a table. If you're alone, you can always leave your bag at a table -- let's hope it doesn't get stolen. you're dining sidekick can sit while you fetch, but it's a pretty complicated menu -- no "Just order me a Big Mac and fries". And there's no menus at the table so your companion could peruse and send you up with an order. I had to walk pretty far to the back of the restaurant, then back up front, then back to order. Why no menus at the table?? So people won't think there's table service.....
Big menu: lots of Cuban style sandwiches, basically paninni on cuban bread. (Never spotted cuban steak with carmelized oniops or smoked trukey, swiss and avocado growing up in Miami). The usual arroz con pollo, ropa vieja, picadillio. The most tempting items I didn't have: Cuban ribs with Mango Ginger Habanero Sauce and the mango pinapple slow. We both had Paella Bar, pick your ingredients. (This is next door to Chopt, so you get the idea.) I found it bland.
One great find: Corn on the cob rolled in a mixture of spices and parmisan cheese. Blowaway great. Would be much better if the corn hadn't been cooked and left sitting around so long, but it's a great idea and that I will pay my highest compliment: I'm stealing the idea for my next dinner party.
I wouldn't run back to Havana Central, but I wouldn't refuse to go back either.