Last week an old friend came in for a whirlwind wedding weekend of another old friend. Before bridal duties she had time for one dinner her first night in. She came straight from the airport, luggage in tow.
To accommodate a mix of friends, old and new, all working at different ends of Manhattan, we picked Havana Central in Times Square. Not the most trendy or New York sophisticate-cool place, but it was convenient and we knew the menu could accommodate a variety of tastes.
Havana Central is a Cuban-inspired chain with smaller locations by Union Square and uptown across from Columbia University. People go for the $5 mojitos at happy hour (yummy!), hefty mix of quirky comfort foods like empanadas and Cuban sandwiches, (mmmm…) and a delicious dessert menu. People do not come for the service.
Four out of eight in our party arrived promptly at 6, only to be told we’d have to dig up 2 more people within 15 minutes or we’d lose our table. After some “persuading” from my friend, they agreed to give us a smaller table. We sat down, ordered drinks, and unilaterally decided we’d rather try a mix appetizers and small plates than individual entrees.
Or not. Management insisted that dinner parties eat entrees. Even if ordering two appetizers per person was more money than ordering an entrée (duh!).
Oh well. Eventually they agreed to let some of us do appetizers if some of us ordered entrees, and I ended up with a delicious grilled salmon in mango salsa. And lots of yummy mojitos.
All in all the night turned out great. Eventually the staff lightened up and by the time the rest of our party showed, they even let us switch to a bigger table.
Moral of the story: if you book dinner at a Times Square location, expect some headaches but Havana Central is fun nonetheless.