Review: Revolucion de Cuba @ Peter Street, Manchester

By David Keane

Cuba. Famed for its cigars, rum and jazz.

Well Revolucion de Cuba manages to bring two of the above to Manchester – and can be forgiven for not attempting to tackle the cigars. But is it a success?

The venue was positively bustling for a Thursday early evening – and to have decent live music at no extra charge is always a welcome addition. Of course, it’s not all jazz, but it’s fun enough to encourage three people to get up and attempt to initiate dancing at only 8pm, while a sober audience looked on perplexed. Dancing at any hour – a staple of Cuba. Tick.

Within only minutes of reading the menu, a waitress was trying to take our order. Politely, we requested a couple more minutes. We were hoping for three or four… we got 20. Annoying – but to be fair, the venue was busy at this point.

Thankfully, the ‘Cuban Hot’ burgers didn’t take too long to arrive – presented on a wooden board, with fries in a tin cup.

On this note, the attention to detail on maintaining the Cuban theme is genuinely admirable: multi-coloured tile flooring, whirring ceiling fans overhead and your knives and forks in what looks like a recycled tin can. All very Caribbean-esque on first glance.

But on closer inspection, the tin can is the same on every table and is not old at all, but designed for purpose. In fact, while the venue hits the nail on the head for the minor details of a Cuban bar, it falls way short of any kind of authenticity. There’s no escaping the fact that you’re in a chain restaurant.

How much does this matter? Not all that much when the music’s playing and you have a rum menu as long as your arm, packed with some of the finest bottles out there.

You can rest assured that this is one area that ticks all the boxes, and they have the cocktails to match. Aside from the odd tequila here and there, they are all rum-based, and the few we tried were delicious – in particular the orange daiquiri.

Now, back to the burgers – Cuban Hot burgers, no less. Boy, these things pack some flavour. With plenty of jalapeños and Manchego cheese, it’s a fiery combo – but it’s their spicy rum sauce which gives the real kick and is the secret ingredient. You can’t fail to be won over by this sauce if you like things spicy – and they sell it by the bottle for those who decide they can’t live without it. Excellent.

Then it came to dessert. Or rather, we thought it had, but yet again, we waited an age to get the menu and even longer to have our order taken. By the time our plate of churros to share came, my dinner had settled and I hardly wanted them anymore.

The sweet sticks of doughy goodness soon brought me round, and when they come sat with dipping dishes of sticky chocolate and toffee, even a savoury, non-sweet man like myself can’t help being won over.

Two double rums (one Pyrat XO, one El Dorado 12-year-old) later and we’re ready to go. We ask for the bill. And yet again, it feels like a lifetime wait for the waitress to take my card and accept the money. Come on, I want to give you money here – take it already. We’re one of the few tables left now, so there’s no excuses.

By the time we get out, it’s 10.30pm – three hours for a two course meal. Too long in my book, especially when most of it was spent waiting.

There’s no denying that despite it lacking the authenticity of some of Manchester’s other rum bars (and certainly being no replacement for the real thing – Cuba), Revolucion de Cuba is a lot of fun and a good night out. There’s not many places you can enjoy decent live music with this range of drinks, at this price. And the food is fantastic. Just make sure you don’t have somewhere to be afterwards.

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