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Cuba - Chestnut Hill

  • j

Looks like they are getting ready to open. Passed by last night and Cuban music was playing. There was a sign in the window saying waiters needed. Anyone know the opening date?

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  1. Do you know if it is a BYO or if they have a bar?

    1 Reply
    1. re: AmblerGirl

      I don't know. Remember reading some time back that this was up in the air. I did not see an application for a liquor license in the window.

    2. I saw somewhere they are supposed to open on the 28th.

      1. Has anyone heard anything about an opening date for this restaurant?

        2 Replies
        1. re: alonna Smith

          Yes, it opened a few days ago. I haven't been there yet, but it looks good.

          1. re: chutney girl

            Really? When I called yesterday, there was a message asking that you leave your phone number and saying that they would call back with the opening date.

        2. They are open and very good! I had the Ropa Vieja, Frijole Negros/Arroz and Tostones. As good as any Cuban food my Cuban friends in NYC make....please keep in mind that Cuban food is not heavily spiced, its main spices being garlic, oregano, cilantro. This food is 'correctly' Cuban. Miguel, the maitre'd and owner, is a wonderful host as well.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00

              It's byob. Went last night and loved it. I had a similar meal to gardens4me, except I had maduros instead of tostones. Everything was delicious and the place is beautiful. Also, there is a young woman playing keyboard and singing lovely Cuban standards. Will be back. So happy to have a good Cuban restaurant so close to home. Finally, a good restaurant in Chestnut Hill besides Citrus! Call for reservations. This was their first week and we only got in due to a cancellation. I wish them continued success.

          1. I'm so happy to hear this! I made reservations last night. I hope they do well.

            1. Ok, so I took the wife last night and we had a decent meal with one major disappointment. We started with the plantains and chicken croquettes. The plantains were wonderful and the croquettes were acceptable. My wife had one of the pork entrees which was also acceptable. The disappointment was the (as I would later discover) $32 Paella special. It wasn't the worst paella that I've ever had (that would be the one I had at Amada about two years ago) but it was far from the best. The most disappointing factor was how dry (overcooked?) the wonderful seafood was (i.e. clams, lobster tails, mussels, crabs, etc). What I look for (and rarely get) in paella is the the crusted outer layer of rice, the rich saffron broth, and the oceany fresh seafood. When will I learn.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Chinon00

                Went with my wife Saturday night and had a similar experience. I was there at 6:30 Chinon so perhaps we were there at the same time? (was at the 2-top against the wall by the hostess stand). Overall we felt it was average to perhaps slightly above. For apps my wife had the Cuban salad (lettuce, onion, tomato what's "Cuban" about that? It came with an ok "lime mojito" vinigarette which didn't taste like that) and the chicken croquettas (which were ok). For entrees my wife had the lechon asado which we both thought was good, but the portion size was pretty small.

                I too had he paella, which as you say Chinon, was OK (not great, not bad). Now the best paella's I have had are exactly as you describe them, and while there are some seafood in shells on top of the rice, most of the meat is baked into the rice and sits under a crusted outer layer, protecting the rich, moist, and tender contents. This paella had some chicken, a few small shrimp, and one scallop in the rice but the majority of the seafood was merely plopped on top. When I asked for a cracker to open the crab legs and lobster tails, they said they didn't have any. As a result I had to open everything with my fork and hands, creating quite a mess. It was easily the messiest paella I've ever eaten. I also thought it was dry as well. I'm used to pieces of lobster and crab in the paella, not in a shell atop the paella. All in all it wasn't bad but I don't think I would order it again (especially at $32).

                We brought our own rum and enjoyed some vry well made mojitos. The restaurant is very pretty and festive, with original artwork on the walls (which can be bought). Our server Flaco was great and very nice to talk to. We will return but we were a little disappointed. My wife grew up eating Cuban food from her grandmother and I was fortunate enough to experience that as well, so our bar is set pretty high I guess. It's still wonderful to have a Cuban restaurant fairly close to us.

                1. re: Chinon00

                  Had dinner at Cuba Thursday night. It was great and has lots of potential. Food was delicious. I asked about some of the posted complaints and was happy to hear that they addressed and corrected concerns. Our food was delicious. Happily, they go light on the salt ~ much healthier and you always can add more. It was busy, festive, fun, and interesting. Mojitos were the best and reminiscent of Havana, Cuba. Can't wait to go back. They are planning lots of future changes, surprises, and even possibly outdoor seating.
                  All very positive. Try it, but make reservations. They fill up fast ever night.

                  1. re: allan r

                    Do they have a liquor licence now or did you BYO rum for the mojitos?

                    1. re: allan r

                      Thanks but I'm curious as to which posted complaints that you asked them about and how you know that they've corrected them.

                      Thanks again

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        I'm curious about what they've corrected, also. I wasn't intending to post a review about our dinner there Saturday night, but it sounds like the owner reads this board, so he should know about our experience. We sat in the back room (only 5 tables and much less 'open' feeling than the front room). Our orders were taken almost immediately, and our appetizers (soup) arrived shortly, but our main courses did not arrive until a full hour after we had ordered. We weren't in a rush, so we didn't say anything, and thought we'd just see how it played out. A couple who walked in at the same time we did managed to have appetizers, eat their entrees, order and eat dessert, pay, and leave before our entrees arrived. The owner was there that night, and either didn't know what was happening (and it's a small restaurant - he should have known), or didn't know what to say to us while we waited. The entire time, our water glasses were filled and refilled, and the waiters spent a good deal of time straightening and restraightening the silverware and plates at the empty tables. The problem was clearly not a lack of wait staff or wait staff training. As for the food, my Arroz con Pollo was overpriced at $18 and certainly not worth the wait. My spouse had the special that night (a combination of pork recipes), which, at $28, was absolutely overpriced and not worth the wait.

                        We were in Cuba earlier this year, so we knew what to expect in the way of seasoning. My guess is that most people would expect more 'punch', and that they would leave disappointed.

                        For the time being, we won't be going back.

                        1. re: tourmama

                          Have to agree with you wholeheartedly. They attempted to seat us in that tiny, very uninviting back room as well and we asked to be seated in the front room, which they did. I was a bit peeved even before we got there due to being on the owners "grand opening list" all o whom were going to be invited to th grand opening first because we had discovered them and inquirred months before they opened. Then I saw posts here saying they were open for two weeks and e-mailed the owner. He quickly sent out a group e-mail to the "grand opening group" saying "hey we're open, actually we've been open for 2 weeks now, so come on in and make sure you say you were on the list when you mak your reservation!" I didn't think this was such a professional way of handling his gaff and I didn't mention it when I called.

                          My paella was dried out, skimpy on the meat and seafood, and I had to crack nearly all of it out its shell (crab legs, skimpy lobster tail) resulting in a big mess. Our waiter (Placo) was wonderful and they made some mean mojito's with the rum we brought). At $32 the paella was way overpriced for a below average dish. We found the food uninspired and disappointing.

                          The following week we wer in Ocean Grove and ate at a Spanish/Portuguese restuarant (Bistro Ole) which was fantastic and blew Cuba away. Our $25 mariscada verdhe was incredible and a bargain. We won't be hurrying to return either. Why can't Philly get it with Latino food? Guess we'll be trekking back to Tierra Colombiana again.....

                    1. I've walked by and looked at the menu. Really, I'd like to go there for lunch. which it doesn't serve.
                      oh well.

                      1. A very nice little restaurant in Chestnut Hill. We brought white rum and they were happy to make us mojitos. A perfect drink for a summer night. The black bean soup was terrific as were the tostones. I thought the ropa vieja was authentic. We had homemade ice cream and flan. The owner was there and introduced himself. The music was a little loud because of the accoustics of the restaurant...but other then that, it was a lovely eveningand we'll be back. I hope they will add fried yucca to the menu. It is one of our favorites and we always order it when in Key West or Miami.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DaisyM

                          My husband just read this and told me that I forgot to mention the arroz con pollo that he ordered and enjoyed and the very delicous steamed yucca with peppers and onions. This little restaurant is a great addition to Chestnut Hill. While we usually go to center city for a night out.....it is nice to have a little place just a few blocks away. I hope that it continues to do well.

                        2. Sorry, have to correct one thing from the above -- the beans are $2 not $5. Still ludicrous considering the prices for the meals and that in most places rice, beans, and sometimes even yucca, tostones, or maduros are included with each entree.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: newyorkers_in_wmtairy

                            This is so disappointing. I had wanted this to be good as I love Cuban food and it is convenient. My initial review was positive because I loved the atmosphere, the music, and my ropa vieja was good (although I admit I like salty food). I neglected to say, however, that my dining partner was unhappy with his meal: tasteless and dry filet tips (forget what they were called on the menu) and about a pound of rice in an unappetizing presentation. He was a bit annoyed that I hadn't mentioned all that and I guess I should have. The service was not great at that time but it was their first week open. I really hoped they would get better. Friends went recently and were not thrilled either. Also, the prices are way too high for the quality. I don't think I will go back unless I read on this board that things have really changed.

                          2. So Verrrrrrrrrry Bad!! 3 waiters and 17 minutes to get our wine opened. Thank god we had some left to wash down the driest meal ever. I read the mixed reviews before we went and thought..." these people should give them a break, Cuban food is always cooked through..its peasant"
                            Nonsense! Damn near inedible.. My friend swore his king fish was a freeze dried and salted pork chop. My ropa vieja was lame. $17 vegetarian dish has no vegetables, just yucca and plantains.
                            Our waitress introduced herself as our "culinary service professional". That doesn't even translate nicely in Spanish!

                            1 salad, 1 app, 4 entrees, nothing else...$122. The wine was fantastic.

                            1. So I've been to Cuba about there times and had great service and the food was oh so tasty. I loved the ropa vieja so much the 1st time I ordered it the second time I went too! I've tried this in Miami and other places and never had this dish as tasty as this. Of course being Latina I had to have the maduros, (just like Mom always made) and the croquetas I've had were superb and one of my fave apps! Let me NOT forget the mojitos. Brought my rum and definitely recommend anyone going there to try one. In fact my friend who is not a drinker had the non-alcoholic version & loved it too! I just went last week and had their special. Pollo asado! Mmmm. This came with rice and beans and reminded me of when Nana made this for me at home. It was liked eating home cooked food, mmmmm! Best juiciest chicken I had. It was a lot for little 'old me, but that's OK they packed it for me and I had the best left overs on day 2. Atmosphere is great, been there for the live music. Let me not forget I've some of the best artwork I've ever seen and yes you can buy it! There's a cozy like feel to the place and what I love the best about this place, it really takes you there. From the bar to the paintings and food I feel like I'm in Havana. Nothing like Cuba Libre or Alma de Cuba in CC that is so americanized. The service from Angelina, Carlos, Miguel and Mike has been top notch. I will definitely go back.I have referred friends there, my parents too and they have been pleased so far. Some of my co-workers have been there and live in the neighborhood & stopped by. Def. give it two thumbs up. I highly recommend you make reservations ahead of time;-)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: colombiana

                                Lucky, lucky you. I was in South Florida this past week. I ate at a place called Padrino's on Hallandale Beach Blvd near Hollywood (maybe you heard of it). I really enjoyed it and found that it had very little in common with Cuba in Chestnut Hill. The food there was inspired and succulent and "real". I don't know what Cuba is about but it ain't that. You might need to recalibrate with a trip to South Florida.

                              2. Anyone been for lunch? I am likely going to avoid dinner because I'd rather wait till they (hopefully) get the kinks worked out before I overpay for a sub-par dinner. But, I am willimg to take a risk at lunch. Plus, I am desperate for a decent lunch spot in C-Hill (I'm still lamenting the loss o0f Cafe Barcelona).

                                1. Dios Mio! I was not born in a Latin country directly but my family was and if Cuba! is calling what I ate a paella dish, they've go to be kidding. My Mom is from Spain and could make a better paella whle in a coma. Where was the seafood in it?

                                  To their credit, the service was good and that is half the battle right there but the layout of the place is a little strange and the decor is OK at best. Many people looked like they were having a good time so that helped the general atmosphere and someone at a neighboring table let us use some of their rum for a mojito so that helped too.

                                  It just wasn't what I was expecting from a exclusive restaurant in "Chestnut Hill." I expected a whole lot more and was disappointed. Perhaps in a few months when the owner, Mr. Costanello, gets his stuff together I will go back but for now...I'll stick to Italian, Asian or my Mom's Latin food.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: España

                                    I'll go back when Mr. Costanello decides to get a new chef who can cook and when he lowers his prices to reasonable. Otherwise I'll trek to Tierra Colombina for much better and cheaper food!

                                  2. Cuba is such a good idea but they just don't clear the last crucial hurdle. The location is great because there isn't much else around that is interesting in the area and the Chestnut Hill/ Mount Airy community I believe is really hungry [no pun intended] for more unfamiliar independent restaurants. The area is also in stark contrast to the cuisine/theme of the restaurant too which is fun and the decor is beautiful. And then the food comes out . . . And unfortunately they don't close the deal.


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      Ate at Cuba! tonight and read the reviews on this page before we went. I thought, "It can't be that bad" and I was so excited about the prospect of good Cuban food in Chestnut Hill. Unfortunately, it was exactly as bad as the reviews describe. The only good thing I can say is that eating outside on the patio was lovely. The interior space is weird, as an earlier posting noted. The menu is very limited (4 or so options in each category). I would not mind this if the offerings were well prepared, but the are not. In 2 instances, the dishes were not as promised (no shrimp on the gazpacho as described by our server, no yuca puree with the ropa vieja as the menu mentioned.) The quality of the food was poor and the servings were very small (and I am not a fat American who expects everything to be supersized!). At the end my husband mentioned, "I think we would have had better food in a Cuban cafeteria," and then concluded, "This was like cafeteria food!" And it was -- dry, bland, tasteless, no presentation. Truly, it is sad, because Chestnut Hill could use a good restaurant, and this one will not be around long.

                                      1. re: kapla010

                                        Gee, I'd hoped they had read these reviews by now and improved the food.

                                    2. Just had dinner there. Food was very good. Service great. I read some of these reviews here, seems like it was opening problems because we had a great meal on the back deck. It's BYO and they have Mojito mix for your drinks. They will even store your bottle with your name on it for later. Dinner for two was $75, that was apps, entree, dessert. Thought it was a fair price for the dinner.

                                      Not kid friendly! Which is great, ha ha. We need more adult oriented places in CH and WMA.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: yeahyeah

                                        Lets hope he changed chef's? Short of that I won't waste my money there again. I found his prices to be much too high. Perhaps he's gotten feedback and made some changes. Does anyone know if this is the case? My preference is still to head to N. Fifth St. though for the real deal......

                                        1. re: Schpsychman

                                          I would hope that was the case. Unfortunately, these "everything is fixed" posts seem to be from people who have never posted before. Maybe I'm being too suspicious, but...
                                          There is a Cuban restaurant in Collingswood, owned by a Tierra Colombiana alum. I thought it was pretty good. Definitely better than Cuba but not as good as Tierra Colombiana. Ever been there Schpsychman.

                                          1. re: JanR

                                            Haven't been there but it's close enough to try. I have tried Mixto in the city and it was pretty good. Not nearly as good as Tierra Colombiana (they also own Mixto) but much more sleek with a nice atmosphere. If you are ever down the shore in Asbury Park JanR definitely try Bistro Ole, a Spanish/Portuguese place that is very good. The mariscada in green (cilantro) broth is incerdible and a mere $25, worth every penny. Then there's always Newark NJ too.....