Revolution De Cuba, Derby
When you think of Revolution De Cuba you don't normally think of food. When De Cuba first hit the Derby scene the city was in desperate need of an alternative to the bars and pubs that offered 2-4-1 deals on shots and alcho-pops. It brought a fresh of breath air as a place you could meet friends for a decent cocktail and a night of dancing. It brought live music, salsa classes and barmen with a serious talent for mixing a good drink.
What it also brought with it is a menu full of Cuban influence. When the team at Derby invited me to come down to their menu tasting evening I wasn't sure what to expect.
Greeted at the door with a classic mojito I was left to peruse the menu that we would be trying out later. Once everyone had arrived we were treat to a cocktail masterclass.
Led by Ben, one of De Cuba's talented mixologists that survived the vigorous 12 week training process, we were taken through the best that the cocktail menu has to offer. Staring with daquiris
Before moving onto Cuba Libres
Then things got flaming exciting with a pair of zombies
Revolution De Cuba focuses on the rum side of the bar - being Cuban inspired - meaning that most of our cocktails contained it in one form or another. Once we'd been shown the basics the floor was opened up for us to make what we fancied.
Ben showed us the difference between the famous shaken not stirred martini and the stirred. Unbelievably there is a real difference, gin bruises really easily altering the taste. I was pleased to learn that I prefer shaken to stirred. Move over Pussy Galore.
He then made us his favourite; the Manhattan. A very alcoholic cocktail that will put the hairs on any hardened chest.
Once we all had a cocktail in hand (a whiskey sour for yours truly) we were told that the food was on it's way.
Starting with nachos accompanied by homemade guacamole it didn't take long to realise that Revolution De Cuba know how to play the food game.
The new options from their Tapas menu followed. Glazed Chicken with Romesco, roasted chicken served in a light smoky tomato sauce.
Roasted butternut squash with peppers, goat cheese sauce and the best chili jam I have ever tasted. Honestly, the stuff is kryptonite.
Pork and Chorizo quesadillas. Packed with flavour but still light.
Albondigas, meatballs made up of beef, pork and chorizo in a stunning tomato sauce. Perfectly spiced without being hot.
Cauliflower wings. These are to die for. Florets of cauliflower that are left over from the creation of their cauliflower steaks lightly fried in mojito batter. Delicious and stopping waste...what's not to love?
While we devoured the tapas Dan, the general manger of the Derby store, talked us through the De Cuba's policies on food. Authenticity is key for them so much so that last year they sent some of their general managers from across the country to Cuba to research the food scene.
While it might be a chain 90% of the food that they serve is made from scratch, on site and their chefs are in from 8am making sure this happens. And everyone is clued up on it. As part of staff training the waiting staff are thrust into the kitchen and shown how to make the dishes, making sure they truly know the menu inside out.
Joined at this point by a friend we hit the mains. Starting with the Classic Cuban Sandwich; roasted pork, sliced ham, pickles and mustard. It sounds like it shouldn't work but it really does.
Then there's the new Pork and chorizo burger with crispy sweet potato fries which I am told were perfectly crispy without being greasy.
The crushed creole peas were a pleasant surprise, I wasn't expecting much from these not being a big fan of peas, but they certainly impressed and well worth the order.
Fit to bursting we moved onto their new desserts, churros cheesecake. Slightly disappointing but perfectly pleasant. The cheesecake element could just do with a little firming up for me.
The sweet nachos coated in sugar and ginger topped with mango, strawberry, coulis and cream. This would be a perfect dessert to share after a big meal.
The final dessert was missed the marked for us. As I was on lent I gave it a miss but this molten chili chocolate fondue was more of a fon-don't. Molten is right in the fact that it was very spicy which took away from the sweet chocolate. It didn't suit our taste but a definite must try anyway.
Revolution De Cuba isn't just about cocktails and live music. It's about good food with a real Cuban heart. I'm pleasantly surprised and will definitely be back, especially when the Derby branch does 2-4-1 cocktails and tapas on Sundays.
I want to quickly thank the staff at Revolution De Cuba, particularly Dan, Amy and Sally who made what could have been a difficult situation painless. Thank you to Michaela for reaching out to me and Ben for the amazing cocktails!