As the name would suggest, a small slice of Cuba has been transported onto Sydney soil to give us a taste of that unique island culture which has remained frozen in time since the 1950s. The name was familiar to us because we’d gone past the Taylor Square store many times on the bus up Oxford Street and we had always been curious about whether it was an authentic Cuban lounge or not.
It’s a lovely warm afternoon when we make the trip to Coco Cubano Parramatta, which is perfect weather for some cocktails and tapas with our fellow food bloggers who have been invited by the lovely Chocolate Suze. Our many questions about the concept of Coco Cubano were answered by Tony, the owner who isn’t Cuban himself but loves the culture and has done a fantastic job at recreating the breezy atmosphere you would expect of a Cuban lounge. He’s put personal touches into the décor with framed photos of his family, mixed in with colour photographs he took on a trip to Cuba and his attentive staff also wear cute khaki uniforms with a badge denoting their chosen mood for the day.
You can tell that plenty of attention was also given to the menu, which covers a broad spectrum of Caribbean themed tapas, wraps, coffee, chocolate, alcohol and even cigars, reflecting the things that Cuba is most famous for. We’re spoilt for choice but start off with some white sangria with oranges and lemons. It was very refreshing and more of a winner in my books than the red sangria we tried later, which was stronger.
Red sangria, $28 jug (same price for white sangria)
Eventually we finally settle on what tapas to share between us – starting with the fried calamari, which was lightly crumbed, sprinkled with chilli salt and moreish when dipped in the roasted garlic sauce.
Fried calamari, chilli salt and garlic sauce, $12.9
Then there’s the grilled haloumi for the fans of this pungent and intensely flavoured cheese, paired with charred peppers, capers and herbs.
Grilled haloumi, $10.9
We’re fairly impressed with their grilled chorizo as well which is bursting with flavour. Continuing the love for their chorizo, we also like the Cuban tortilla, which consists of fried egg with chorizo, queso, rocket and tomato relish and it is neatly cut up into halves for us to share. Their serrano ham with queso melt was also decent, with lovely thin ham encased by melted cheese.
Grilled chorizo with warmed olives, $9.9
Cuban tortilla, $11.9
Serrano Ham melt, $14.9
Their take on the patatas bravas leaves out the garlic mayo we’re used to having with it but the spicy tomato salsa with the fried potato wedges is still quite delicious.
Patatas bravas, $9.9
Thankfully a couple of bowls of shoestring fries sprinkled with paprika salt come out next. These are accompanied with garlic mayo (which we use later for the potato wedges as well). It is irresistible to nibble on since I prefer thin fries to chunky cut ones and I find myself heaping the garlic mayo on my handfuls of chips.
Fries with paprika salt, $7.9
There’s also cute mini beef burger sliders with grilled cheese and onion jam which we find hard to split as they are already bite sized. We manage to cut them in half in the end and they’re quite flavoursome in the little nibble we manage to grab.
Beef sliders, $9.9
We wrap up with some desserts, sampling some of the chocolate which Cuba is apparently known for. There’s the melted chocolate dip with strawberries and marshmallows as well as chocolate being drizzled on crunchy waffles and vanilla icecream and melted chocolate used as a sauce for the churros with strawberries.
Strawberries and marshmallows with melted chocolate pot, $7.90
Revolution waffles with strawberries, chocolate and icecream $13.90
Choc cinnamon Churros with chocolate and strawberries, $13.90
It’s heavenly chocolate overload, and I had also ordered myself an affogato to accompany the dessert so I got another hit of chocolate with all the melted chocolate which coated the cocktail glass which my affogato was served in. It was a huge serving of vanilla icecream drizzled over espresso coffee, with the ice cream eventually freezing the chocolate coated on the glass and turning it more into an iced mocha – something a bit different from the other affogatos I’ve had elsewhere.
Before we knew it, we had ended up spending a few hours lazing about in Coco Cubano and noticed that quite a few other tables of diners did the same – Tony says that the owners enjoy seeing people spend the day in the restaurant on their laptops (taking advantage of the free wi-fi of course) because they want to create a comfortable lounge experience that encourages people to stay. We’ve been won over by the passionate owners of Coco Cubano and we will definitely be back to try out other parts of their menu we missed out on – like the rum cocktails and their limited availability of single origin chocolate.
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of Coco Cubano
302 Church St
Parramatta, NSW 2150
Tel: 0450 956 382