After a succession of European restaurants my companion and I wanted to cast our nets further afield to catch something tasty for dinner. We decided on Fiesta Havana, a cuban bar and restaurant in the Watergate area of Chester. Despite technically being a chain, with the only other Fiesta Havana being in Fulham, we still feel like we’re entering a distinct independent establishment. Just after 7pm and the party’s already started, music and merriment greets us at the doorway. We asked if there was a quieter table we could sit at to aid conversation and were offered a table in the restaurant area which usually stays empty during the week. Thankfully although empty at the time it allowed us to get away from some of the buzz but still enjoy the music and the feint sound of the revellers next door.
We poured over the extensive menu and our waitress was keen to point out the various options available to us, a selection of tapas which doubled up as starters and a more traditional main menu also. Thursday was half price fajita night which immediately took our fancy and with a happy hour lasting until 8pm we opted for a pitcher of ‘Purple Rain’, a cocktail consisting of vodka, schnapps, blue curacao and lemonade, “when in Havana...”! We ordered one beef and one chicken fajitas and a portion of Fiesta Fries on the side.
A few more people joined us in the restaurant area over the course of the evening but it still made for a relaxed and informal dining experience with plenty of opportunity for chat. The decor is very much the exposed walls and tunneled ceilings one might expect both in Chester’s Watergate area and Havana itself. While I’m sure that on Saturday nights and over race weekends Fiesta Havana is more bar than restaurant, the rest of the time it seems adequately prepared for a more traditional dining service.
Our food arrived at the table in stages, not due to cooking times but rather the poor waitress’s carrying ability, such was the feast we’d inadvertently ordered! First came the fiesta fries, then 2 small plastic pot containing 5 small tortillas each alongside some grated cheese, guacamole and tomato salsa, then finally the two sizzling hot cast iron dishes with charred onion and pepper, one topped with beef and the other chicken. The fajitas represent value for money at full price (around £13) never mind at half that. The meat is well seasoned in a traditional dry herb rub and the fun of building your own dinner isn’t completely lost on someone who usually enjoys silver service.
The conversation dried up for a good ten minutes until we became conscious of the silence and realised we could afford to pause briefly between mouthfuls! Up to that point we’d been quite happy in our own little worlds, picking up a warm tortilla, sprinkling liberally with grated cheese, adding a strip or two of chicken, some pepper and onion, a little tomato salsa and sour cream and then munching our way through while deciding which ingredients to add to the next one.
After polishing off all but a few slivers of onion and rather more of the fiesta fries, very much a sharing portion, we flopped back onto our chairs and surveyed the carnage of empty plates and serving dishes in front of us. The waitress soon cleared everything away and I couldn’t resist a look at the dessert menu. There were only 3 or 4 desserts to choose from but we were recommended the passionfruit cheesecake and I decided to put the waitresses suggestion to the test and requested it to share with my companion. I’m so glad we did because another monster sized dish came out, beautifully presented with a dollop of fresh vanilla ice cream and a halved passionfruit for garnish. The cheesecake was indeed well worthy of recommendation and so I too add my weight behind it.
Our pitcher of Purple Rain was just beginning to run dry but it had lasted nicely throughout the 2 hours we were there and more than quenched the thirst worked up by the fajitas. We’d thoroughly enjoyed our night in Fiesta Havana, the food was comfortably above ‘bar/restaurant’ quality, the presentation was certainly in excess of my expectations. The service was warm and always with a smile, they were happy to accommodate us in the dining room, arrange our dishes to share and generally make us feel looked after. For cheap eats in a relaxed and vibrant environment you really can’t go wrong, combine that with a long happy hour and food offers throughout the week and Fiesta Havana is comfortably my current favourite for affordable grub in Chester.
Price: £15 per head
Star Dish: Fajitas
39-41 Watergate Street