Havana Grill dishes out authentic Cuban cuisines
With far-reaching influences from Caribbean, Iberian and African cultures, the cuisine of Cuba is an early incarnation of global fusion fare.
Indigenous people cooked with tubers, squashes, corn and fish. After Christopher Columbus claimed the island for Spain in 1492, the conquistadors who followed introduced olive oil and the sofrito of green pepper, garlic and onion. From the slave trade came plantains, prepared savory and sweet.
Centuries of cultural melding have created a complex cuisine that's distinct from its Latin American neighbors. Travel to Cuba from the United States is still restricted, but you can experience the authentic flavors in Madison.
Located in a dance hall-size space on Gallatin Pike, Havana Grill has the retro feel of Miami circa 1970. Mango-colored walls are decorated with fishing nets and seashells, parrots and palms, and a mural of an island scene. Recordings of pleasing Latin rhythms and syncopations play, but the music goes live on weekend nights, when the spacious dining room doubles as a dance floor.
-- Nancy Vienneau
Nancy Vienneau is a chef and retired caterer with 25 years of experience. She cooks and teaches at Second Harvest and blogs about her adventures with food at http://nancyvienneau.com. Reviews are written from anonymous visits to restaurants. Negative reviews are based on two or more visits. The Tennessean pays for all meals.