On the top floor of a modern apartment building in the Vedado, Café Laurent can be spotted from the street below by the orange awning on its rooftop terrace. You can ride an antiquated elevator or take the five flights of stairs to reach the apartment that has been converted into a stylish restaurant. In the main dining room one wall is papered with the yellowed pages of old magazines. Another area behind the bar has painted circles like bubbles floating up the wall. Tables are also set out on the terrace with city views and in a former bedroom is a private dining room. The menu, created by former employees of El Templete, features starters like octopus, ceviche, gazpacho and asparagus with Serrano ham and main courses as grilled lobster and parrillada de Mariscos as well as a fantastic fried chicken salad, which is best enjoyed at one of the tables outdoors.
Hector Higuera has been known as one of the best hosts in Havana for years. His first incarnation of Le Chansonnier was in a building on the Malecon but he shut that one in 2009 and has now reopened his tribute to French food and wine in a lovely Spanish colonial house in the Vedado neighborhood. The historic rooms have been given a contemporary lift by an acclaimed Cuban designer so the antique tiled floors are set off by stark white walls and sleek modern arches are supported by paint-peeling antique columns. The food is prepared in a kitchen no bigger than that in an average-sized house but the dishes that come out of it are seriously sophisticated. The fine French food and dramatic setting, with showstopping work by artist Damien Aquiles, and white leather tufted banquettes draws the city’s artists, musicians and actors—making this the most glamorous restaurant in Havana.
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