El Decameron Paladar
Dining out at a family-run paladar is kind of an essential experience when you come to Cuba. Typically cosy, defined by a warm atmosphere and well-made local classics, these often unassuming restaurants provide a real taste of local cuisine cooked with skill.
A classic example of this is Decameron. Taking up the ground floor of a two-storey property in Vedado, this snug little paladar is run by Niuska Miniet, a literature graduate who named her restaurant after a 14th-century collection of Italian stories.
Duck inside the dining room and you can’t help but smile at the mishmash of décor. An array of old fashioned clocks hang from the walls. An antique dresser sits in the corner of the room. An assortment of various ornamental pieces fill the spaces along high shelves.
Flair in the kitchen
But while the atmosphere is all a little bit kooky, the quality of the dishes is undeniably excellent and more than exceed the unassuming humbleness of the setting.
Decameron departs from the typical paladar experience thanks to the international feel to the menu despite its specialisation in traditional Cuban cuisine. The combination of Cuban Creole and Italian-influenced dishes add up to a diverse range of options that showcase flair and culinary skill.
The impressive variety of dishes includes beef carpaccio, lobster enchilada, filete al queso azul (steak fillet with blue cheese) and pulpo templado con escabeche de papa (octopus with marinated potatoes) to name a few.
Decameron’s "Ensalada Buena Salud" also proves that a salad is far from a light alternative. Featuring a wide array of fresh vegetables drizzled in a balsamic vinaigrette, this substantial dish is more than enough for two people.
If room allows after the generous mains, end your meal with Decameron’s refreshing chocolate ice cream and mint liqueur or go for the decadent Italian classic tiramisu. There’s also an extensive range of coffees to round off your meal.
Beyond the obvious quality of the food, the service is also fantastic and the small team of charming staff help create a genuinely warm, inviting atmosphere. It’s not exactly cheap but the quality of the food served here definitely reflects the pricing on the upper end of the scale by Cuban paladar standards.
Far from the swish grandeur of Cuba’s more illustrious restaurants, Decameron’s quirky setting and beautiful Italian-inspired dishes represent the local paladar experience at its very best.
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