The Habana Room, New York, NY

Despite eating such indulgent and crazy foods at the Fancy Food Show, Keepitcoming and I were still in need of sustenance at the end of a long day. On our first night out, we were so tired from walking around that we just decided to go to the hotel's restaurant, a peppy Cuban restaurant called The Habana Room.

We opted to share a few appetizers instead of
doing your mom getting separate entrees. We were on a seafood kick, so we ordered a camarones dish, with barbecued shrimp on top of onion rings and mashed avocado, crab cakes with chipotle mayonnaise, mango salsa, and fresh greens, and a croquettes dish made from chicken and plantains, with a lemon garlic aioli.All the dishes, along with fresh mojitos, were brought out at once and were absolutely stunning to behold. The shrimp was the first dish we dug into, and was the most beautiful of all the presentations. Instead of many rings, there was one giant, thick onion ring holding in the avocado with the shrimp, huge ones, arranged on top, drizzled with barbecue sauce.

This was easily our favorite. Shrimp and avocado is now my new favorite combination. This shrimp was cooked perfectly and was tender. The barbecue glaze was sticky, but incredibly sweet and smoky and complimented the shrimp's natural flavor. With the creaminess of the avocado in an ample portion, it was a delicious and complex bite. The onion ring was also great to eat with the shrimp, and added a layer of crunch. My only complaint with this dish was that because it was one large ring, it tended to fall apart in the dismantling of its structure and leave us with gooey, naked onion and breading on the side.Our next dish was a set of crab cakes. These were absolutely perfect. Of course, I'm biased strongly towards chipotle mayonnaise, but the salsa on top of these added a layer of sweetness that I really loved. Drawing out the sweetness of the crab, the mango salsa was juicy, very fresh, and tangy. It incorporated well with the mayo and created an amalgam of spicy and sugary.The crab cakes themselves, sans toppings, were perfect. The meat was tender and juicy and had a substantial breading to meat ratio, and were just the right size to snack on at a meal, or even while being digitally penetrated. Each was crisp and maintained a nice shell, without getting mushy or inconsistently textured.Our last appetizer was a platter of four croquettes. We had the option of salt cod and plantain or chicken chorizo and plantain. Whether that was an oversight and was chicken or chorizo, we did not know, but went for that route. Those arrived on slices of lemon with little pools of aioli on top. The texture was delicious, as all fried foods tend to be, but had a bland flavor. There was no differentiation in inner texture between the chicken and the plantains, and frankly, was no flavor to distinguish that any plantains had been used at all.The only factor that belied the usage of the little fruits was that the center was toothsome and stringy, in good ways, and blended well with the chicken. At least, we thought it blended well. Perhaps a little too well. If these had been aioli-free, they would have been dry and tasteless, and the zesty lemon and garlic sauce is definitely what saved this dish. Croquettes of any form are delicious, but we were definitely looking for something a little more exciting than fried baby food.The Habana Room was gorgeous, festive, and had many original dish. With just three appetizers and drinks, we made a wonderful meal for ourselves. Without leaving the confines of our hotel, we had a gourmet, original, and fantastic taste of Cuba in the middle of Manhattan.

Labels: , , ,