Starbien Paladar

Starbien might not be the easiest restaurant to find, but those that are prepared to take a detour from the main tourist strip will be well rewarded. Set within an historic, two-storey colonial house in Playa neighbourhood, this stylish restaurant produces a modern take on Cuban cuisine that offers fine dining at incredibly reasonable prices.

Quiet residential streets aren’t usually the scene for upscale dining destinations. But Starbien (meaning in English, Being Well) is far from ordinary. The restaurant’s off-the-beaten-track location makes for a welcome retreat from the hectic streets of downtown Havana. The atmosphere is laidback. The setting elegant and modern. But it’s the quality of the cooking that’s the real reason for meandering to this part of town.

While Starbien is situated in an historic colonial house, the interior has been given a modern makeover. And no expense has been spared to give off its newly acquired swish, European vibe. There’s a spacious terrace on the ground floor, while upstairs you’ll discover a cosy bar situated next to a second, smaller terrace. Come evening time, this outdoor seating area is a popular spot for sipping cocktails and enjoying dreamy sunset views.

Glancing through the menu, you’ll notice Starbien offers an eclectic selection of both Cuban and internationally-inspired cuisine. The kitchen strives towards offering a high-end dining experience and it’s gained a reputation for being one of the city’s top places to dine out.

The main menu offers a superb choice of dishes including handmade ravioli with blue cheese and spinach, pork tenderloin, fillet mignon, curried shrimps, mushroom risotto and freshly caught local fish dressed in a zingy lime sauce. Dessert options are equally impressive - the light and refreshing lime pie and decadent chocolate torte are both highly recommended.

Arrive at lunchtime and you might want to sample the generous set menu - with fresh bread, an appetizer, an entrée, dessert and the choice of a soft drink or beer - all for a very reasonable 10 CUC.

There’s also an extensive selection of Spanish, Italian, Argentinian and Chilean wines to complement your meal from while Starbien’s cocktail menu boasts expertly-mixed caprioskas, daiquiris, mojitos and martinis.

The service at Starbien is also as highly considered as the food. Attentive and efficient; the waiting staff strike a balance between ensuring customers are well looked after but left to enjoy their meal in peace.

Overall, Starbien is a shining example of Cuba’s new wave of high-end dining establishments. An absolute treat for foodies, it’s truly worth the extra effort to find and will undoubtedly prove to be one of your culinary highlights in Cuba.

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