Venues

Little Havana

Little Havana
Write a Review

Is this your venue?

Claim it now!

Please or signup in order for you to claim this venue.

Cost
R140 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance, Hip & happening
Food
Steak
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R60(one and local champagne)R150(imported champagne) max 4 bottles

Critic's review

Nicola Jenvey

Food
Set above the buzzing Granada Square in Umhlanga, Little Havana offers patrons an elegant indoor-outdoor dining experience. The emphasis is on world-class food matched to top local wines.

The food offering includes everything from seafood to enticing vegetarian dishes, poultry and red meat, including venison.

Start with deconstructed prawn samoosas that speak to Durban’s cultural heritage; duck spring rolls with orange-balsamic dipping sauce; or smoked springbok carpaccio served with the Vietnamese nuoc cham dressing, rocket, red chilli and lime-coriander aioli.

More exploratory taste sensations are the wood-fired trio of snails or the oft-ignored but mouth-wateringly rich roasted marrow bones.

Fresh line fish can be served simply grilled with lemon butter, char-grilled or with coconut and lime, while the opulently flavoured seafood curry with ginger-and-cumin basmati rice is a worthy honour to another Durban favourite.

However, it is the perfectly executed steaks for which owner Martin Lombaard is renowned. The in-house butchery processes and ages the restaurant’s free-range hormone-free meats. Virtually all Little Havana’s beef is wet-aged with the exception of the dry-aged T-bone and fillet on the bone. Steaks are seasoned with Maldon salt, black pepper, thyme and mustard seeds, and served with a choice of shoestring fries, baked potato, mashed potato or basmati rice.

The selected free-range grass-fed beef embodies a field-to-fork traceability and the in-house block man prepares perfect cuts.
The results are succulent steaks barely requiring a knife that take centre stage on the plate and the experience.

Little Havana also has a specialities menu from which patrons can compare grain-fed versus free-range grass-fed rump steaks and enjoy bone-in fillet with mash, wilted spinach and sauce of red wine and pearl onion, risotto rump with mushroom-and-herb risotto or an entrecote béarnaise sirloin with herb salad and fries.

Drinks
The premier wine list offers a balanced cross-section of South Africa’s award-winning industry. There is also a sound selection of wines by the glass, and a temperature controlled cellar with even more wines not represented on the list.

Service
Professional, efficient and understated service.

Ambience
Speaking to its Cuban connections, Little Havana’s décor and ambience are chic without being overbearing. The warm copper and glass décor and the inviting leather seating sub-dividing the large room ensures elegance for any occasion, from romantic dinners to business lunches.

And…
Patrons are invited to enter the feature wine cellar and explore.

(September 2016)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Shirley Berko

    Food
    Little Havana tempts with steak is in its prime. Free-range beef is the revered hero on the menu, and comes with a field-to-fork, grain versus grass-fed traceability for each cut. It’s aged on site and prepared by the in-house butcher. The mixed springbok and beef carpaccio starter, the roasted marrow bones, and the steak tartare are all great options to kick off the meat-loving experience. The exhausted term ‘cooked to perfection’ is often bandied about but here, in reference to a good steak, it is the only way to describe it. Try the grain- versus grass-fed Rib Eye and see if you can spot the differences. The dish comprises of two 200g cuts, served with peppercorn and red wine sauces, and this nearly half kilo of meat is priced at what seems like a very reasonable R175. The Entrecote Béarnaise consists of a 300g tender sirloin and is a celebration of both béarnaise and bovine palate pleasers. (Their béarnaise is arguably one of the best in Durban. It has just enough acidic tang to complement the meatiness, without smothering and muting the flavour.) If your carnivorous inclinations are not as strong, the seafood is also worth a try. Line fish, shellfish and crayfish are available, served in simple Mediterranean or Asian-inspired styles.

    Drinks
    A substantial wine list, with a range of cocktails and craft beer. Cocktails range from R50 to R80 and are a fun variety, if leaning towards the more sugary side. There’s a well-stocked wine cellar for the more discerning connoisseurs.

    Service
    Staff are efficient and well-informed. Our waiter was fully versed in meat cuts and able to make recommendations suited to the preferences of each diner. The attention to detail invested in the food is extended to the service.

    Ambience
    Crisp white linen and plush white seating complement the food, as well as the Durban climate. Being ased in Umhlanga, it’s not surprising that tourists make up a solid portion of the covers at the restaurant, but there’s a loyal local following as well.

    And…
    As the name suggests, they’re Cuban-inspired, so you can order cigars as well. –

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Steak is the star of the gastronomic show at this restaurant. It comes in as many different cuts as you could imagine, with grain-fed, grass-fed and organic options. Try the fillet served on the bone (with mash, wilted spinach, red wine and pearl onion jus) for maximum taste and tenderness. For starters, opt for the deconstructed prawn samoosa or follow the carnivorous theme and go for steak tartare or roasted marrow bones served with a well-matched parsley and caper salad. Further meaty options run the gauntlet from slow-roasted lamb shank to venison, and crispy pork belly paired with roast apple, bacon, thyme and mustard. Seafood is well represented in terms of variety and cooking styles and vegetarians are certainly not sidelined.

    Drinks 
    They take their wines seriously here. The list comprehensively covers South African varietals and blends and prices are fair. There’s a small selection of Champagne, plus quality by-the-glass selections. Enthusiasts can forage in the glass cellar for something special and the non-converts can concentrate on cocktails.

    Service
    There’s no room for error as, the focused, friendly team is headed up by the owners. Waiters are well turned out, observe dining etiquette and are well versed in the menu’s nuances.

    Ambience
    The veranda, which overlooks a vibey square, exudes a colonial air with its paddle fans, crisp white tablecloths and brass lanterns. The handsome interior is clad in various guises of leather, linen and copper and, although it offers a more formal experience, it is by no means stuffy.

    And…
    Enquire about the availability of the quality Australian wagyu beef.

    (August 2014)

  • A cut above, with emphasis on great quality and preparation. Outstanding service and wine list. Visit on a vibey Friday/Saturday night. Try marrow bones, deconstructed prawn samoosas and fillet on the bone. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    Little Havana is a grill house that is unashamedly dedicated to the carnivorous. Treat your palate with a generous marrow bone starter: scoop out the unctuous marrow and relish it on crostini for old-fashioned comfort food or, for a delicious freshness, team it with the salsa verde and rocket salad with caperberries that come as accompaniments. Other justifiably popular starter options include the open samoosa (plump prawns in a tomato-based curry sauce tucked between layers of crispy pastry), home cured gravadlax with potato blini, and Cuban chicken livers. Free-range, hormone-free meat is processed and aged at the in-house butchery and waiters pay homage to the coveted steaks by ceremonially presenting each table with a large platter of the various cuts. The emphasis is on each diner carefully selecting their individual cut and the nuances – from how long each has been aged to the marbling and visible difference between grain and grass fed steaks – are explained. Each cut is cooked to perfection from bleu to medium, but preferences for well done are not tolerated here. Organic and grass-fed steaks from Greenfields in the KZN Midlands are also available (though a little more expensive) and the grain-fed versus grass-fed platter (two 200 gram rump steaks served with a peppercorn and red wine sauce) is good value, plus it offers discerning diners the opportunity to decide which they prefer. Meaty fare is supplemented with the likes of seasonal venison, slow-roasted pork belly with roasted apple, bacon, thyme and mustard, and immensely gratifying sticky, glazed, deboned pork ribs with chilli and coriander. There are a number of alternatives that are also prepared with aplomb, such as calamari served with aioli and roasted linefish with a herb crust and teamed with a chunky Sicilian ratatouille and salsa verde. Reluctant carnivores and vegetarians can opt for a wild mushroom risotto or millionaire’s macaroni done with four cheeses and porcini mushrooms, which elevate the normally humble dish to gourmet status. If you’re defenseless when it comes to dessert, succumb to the suitably rich chocolate fondant or one of the best classic crème brûlées in town.

    Wine
    This list will placate the picky and gently guide the uninitiated. The compilation is not a perfunctory one: it’s well-balanced in terms of varietal and offers popular wines plus a selection of lesser-spotted and boutique wines.

    Service
    Relish service as it should be. Hands-on owners, Martin Lombard (instantly recognisable as a seasoned Durban restaurateur and the face of Havana Grill) and José Goncalves, are omnipresent and guide a slick team. Waiters are erudite and intuitive, and observation of dining etiquette should not be mistaken for formality. If you’re floundering, simply ask for advice; opinions are given with easy confidence.

    Ambience
    Cross the bustling square flanked with shops and eateries and allow a staircase to sweep you upstairs to Little Havana. The reception area is dotted with inviting leather armchairs and staff who don’t miss a beat, and you will notice the Greenfields logo on the waiters’ aprons. (Astute foodies know this translates into top quality organic beef.) The village can be surveyed from balcony tables bedecked in white napery while wooden paddle fans turn lazily above. The colonial feel of the outdoor area is balanced with a more formal interior. Bank seating in caramel coloured leather divides the sizeable restaurant into two more intimate halves. The contemporary cellar takes the form of a glassed-in room with bottles untraditionally standing to attention, and a glassed-in meat locker showcasing ageing hunks of steak is located discreetly in the corner.

    And...
    An intimate private dining room (comfortably seating up to 14 people) is perfect for private get-togethers and occasions.(Tracy Gielink, July 2012)

User reviews

  • With the rising cost of eating out these days, it is unfathomable how Little Havana, Umhlanga can offer a lunch special of a 2 course meal with a drink for only R120. Sister restaurant to one of my favourites, Havana Grill at Suncoast, Little Havanna is similarly elegant but relaxed, in crisp white and dark browns, with a deck overlooking Umhlanga Village. Our shared starter was beef strips in a garlic and chilli gravy. Tender strips of beef were cooked in a rich, hearty tomato gravy with a sofrito base. The brushcetta was perfect to lap up all that thick, luscious gravy. My main of slow roasted pork belly was meltingly tender, with an unctuous layer of fat and soft, moist yielding meat below. The crackling was puffed, super crisp and crunchy, making a loud "crack" each time I broke off a piece. The beans had a slight bite to it, just the way I like it and the caramelised onion and mustard cream rounded off the meal beautifully. My friend's meal, however, was a bit of a disappointment. The sole was dry and slightly overcooked. A garlic or lemon butter sauce on the side would have added some much needed moisture and flavour to the meal. We did bring this to the manager's attention and he welcomed the feedback. Dessert of the day was Panna Cotta but as neither of us are a fan, we opted to share a bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert. Our waiter is one I will never forget. His name, after all, was Never. Friendly and efficient, he never disappointed, with impeccable service. Overall, a great dining experience.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • I dined with my siblings on a weekend and was engulfed a busy and bustling restaurant that made for a pleasant ambience - everyone appeared to be having a good time. My calamari starter was delicious and light, and the portion was well balanced so that I was able to finish it without feeling overly full once the main arrived. I ordered a rib-eye cooked medium and it was tasty, however the piece of beef I received had large pieces of sinew and was unevenly cut which meant that it was overdone in the thinner areas, and difficult to chew. The sides of risotto and onion rings were tasty and a great accompaniment to suit the steak. We didn't miss the chocolate fondant dessert with vanilla ice cream, as advised to us by our waiter. It didn't disappoint, perfectly soft in the middle without being underdone. The cocktails were the highlight of the evening. The cosmopolitan was fresh and balanced, perfect for a typical balmy, summer evening in Durban. Despite the disappointment of the unevenly cooked steak, I had a good evening. The ambience of the restaurant, good service and cocktails were amazing, and I'll definitely return in the future.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • I was thrilled with the service, loved the elegant atmosphere and the food was extra ordinarily delightful.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • Celebrated my sisters birthday dinner, great service and staff. Food is excellent. cuts of meat are shown to you , to decide what you'd like cooked for you.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • I decided to bring my business partners Greg and Michael along after a hectic week. They had a great time and one of them tried and raved about the deconstructed samosa. Both has steak and loved it. This was my second time - and still impressed...please serve cream soda, for the highly adventurous- like myself. lol. Anyways a great time was had and we definitely coming through again. The waitron was very pleasant. Our sincere thanks for the dining experience.
    Roshinee, Greg and Michael
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • What a wonderful experience this was. Pleasant music in the background, plenty of space, so our meal was reasonably private, efficient and pleasant service, and the food was, really, one of the best meals I have ever had. Well done, Little Havana!
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • What an amazing evening!

    Our waitress was excellent and warm.

    Food was great...

    Can't rave enough!!

    Looking forward to my next meal here!
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • We recently decided to try Little Havana and after all of the hype in the media we were quite disappointed. We both ordered steaks which took 50 minutes to arrive at the table. The restaurant was fairly busy but this should be no excuse. My wife ordered the rib-eye (on recommendation) which was slightly overcooked but very dry, almost as if the steak had been re-warmed. The baked potato was flavourless, possibly a microwave special. I went for one of the house specials, fillet on the bone. The dish consisted of two separate pieces of meat, the one was perfectly cooked (medium) and the other piece was ‘blue’ it was so undercooked. The menu description stated that the dish was ‘served with roasted pearl onions,’ of which there were two on the plate and the red wine jus was also on the rationed side. For R150 one would expect more.
    A disappointing first experience, the decor and ambience is great so I will go back and give them another chance...

    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • Being an Umhlanga local I noticed there was a gap for an up-market restaurant and Little Havana has hit the spot perfectly. Great ambience, smart decor and simply amazing slow roasted pork!

    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

Write a review

Nearby Restaurants

Featured restaurants

Eatout