REVIEW: Havana Bank Sq

Havana Bank Sq. At this point I could stop and everyone who has been here would already know what kind of night Miriam and I had here. Why have I not been told about Havana Bank Sq before now? Why have I never heard people talk about Havana Bank Sq? This place is exceptional, the venue, the staff, and the best food in Belfast City Centre, full stop.

I had decided to take Miriam out for dinner because she wasn’t feeling herself and was a bit down. So I came upon Havana Bank Sq and as she and I love something different we decided to take this Cuban adventure and see where it lead.

From the moment we walked in I just knew this was going to be special. We where met by the most professional front of house staff member I have ever had the pleasure of meeting; Robert, a true gentleman and a fabulous host for the evening. He and Molly made our night, they really did. They helped with every request and entertained us with the best of craic all evening. In fact Miriam’s mood change immediately. Thanks guys.

Robert advised us to try a six coarse tasting menu prepared by Dan Harvey and delivered that night by his brigade of Paul, Noel and Neil. The food was stunning. Robert and Molly glided through the service explaining each course as it came. Their knowledge was amazing and if they didn’t know the answers to our questions they got the answers from the chef’s.

We began the evening with an amuse bouche of locally shot wood pigeon, celeriac remoulade, black pudding and truffle mayo. My bouche has never been so amused. The celeriac remoulade was divine. Never having had wood pigeon I was curious and I was not disappointed. I loved the subtle game flavour, superb.

Then enter the first course of pan seared Irish King scallops, chorizo, roe and pea. Lovely, just lovely, yes the scallops where great and the choice of chorizo made a great counter to the sweet scallop but using the roe as a seasoning was just inspired. First they dehydrate the roe and powdered it down into a seasoning. Then they dusted the roe seasoning onto the plate in a perfectly round disc, I feel it outshone the scallops. I’ve never had anything like this. It was truly inspired. It reminded me of rock pool hunting with my Dad and brother.

Second course was Co. Wicklow venison, red cabbage, a quarter of a parsnip roasted and again another component that equalled the main element, pulled shoulder of venison in a croquette. Never have I ate a dish so satisfying. Deep rich venison with an amazing jus, parsnip roasted beyond your wildest dreams and the croquette was the best innovation of the evening for me. I have eaten in some fancy places in my life but this guy Dan Harvey is up there in my trinity of culinary genius’.

At this point Miriam was flagging, three courses into the six and my wee gem was feeling the heat, but was loving every minute of the company … Robert’s company.

Molly arrived in a fanfare bearing Sea Bass. Now those of you who have read my reviews before would know I love sea bass. In fact I waxed lyrical about a sea bass dish I had this summer. But Dan, your boys didn’t let you down. The sea bass was pearly white flaking from under a beautifully seasoned crispy skin. The complexity and perfectly balanced accompaniments of a mushroom duxelle, candy beetroot, bacon and samphire was a top notch culinary masterclass. Salty samphire and bacon cut by earthy mushroom and all accentuated with seductively sliced servings of candy beetroot. You’re a wizard Chef.

The desert course consisted of home-made pecan pie and salted caramel ice cream. I was glad of the normality of the desert. Something to come down with. But no, dehydrated raspberries hidden between the pecan pie and the ice cream. I swear it was like a sherbet hit that accelerated the taste buds and cleared the senses. And the pastry casing on the pecan pie was equal to any I have had in the French patisseries.

So now I’m done! But that’s five not six! I’m glad it wasn’t finished. To finish, a marvellous melody of Irish cheeses with truffle honey and rich dark chutney. Oh yes and fresh sharp apple matchsticks. For me the Five Miletown whipped goats cheese on a cracker drizzled with truffle honey. Your right Robert, I just love a cheese board.

The guys at Havana Bank Sq are genuinely amazing. This place is right up in my top three. Dan is a top quality chef and I would not be surprised to see him get the recognition he deserves very soon. Just remember the brigade Dan because they are a credit to you. Your food is stunning Dan I can say no more. And to Robert, my wife’s new best friend ever, you were right you knew we’d love it. Thanks to all the staff for a wonderful evening. Best night ever!

Book Havana Bank Sq, tell them I sent you. You won’t be disappointed and you can thank me later.

PS Christmas tasting menu available now, book early, my wife’s friend’s hockey team have just booked in.

Paul McMath

Havana Bank Sq can be found on Berry Street (out the side door of Castlecourt!) in Belfast. For more information on opening times and their menu go to and keep up-to-date on Facebook @cafehavanabelfast and @HavanaBankSq on Twitter.

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