Despite some relaxations – and they may be reversed – it’s still difficult for Americans to go to Cuba.
And although Cuban cigars are no longer routinely confiscated by US border guards – what did they do with them – smoke them behind the customs shed? – you still can’t legally buy them in the United States. And you cannot smoke in London food establishments – or anywhere indoors.
But one London restaurant offers all of these forbidden fruits. Boisdale of Belgravia not only sells Cuban cigars, it also has a “terrace” (theoretically outdoors but not so you would notice the weather) space where you can smoke them without running foul of English law. It’s on the picture.
During December, it is adding to the theme with its “Cuban Christmas”. It is featuring the Cuban All Stars, a band of musicians including some very fine Cuban singers and players. They will present some of the Buena Vista Social Club’s repertoire.
There’s also some very Cuban cocktails, created with real Havana Club rum (beware of imitations) including long term favourites such as Mojito, Daiquiri and Pina Colada (around £12 to £15).
The food is definitely not Cuban, which some will see as a boon. Instead, it is mostly modern British with some additions, many true to the Scottish décor of much of the establishment. The terrace menu for cigar fans is mostly hamburgers (£12.50) and small plates such as crab on toast or pork sausages with mustard (roughly £7 to £8) while the restaurant serves more substantial meals (main course around £19 but there’s two courses for £19 at lunchtime and early or late evening).
It’s good but if nothing else, it’s different. And the last thing you would expect within walking distance of Victoria.
Boisdale of Belgravia
13-15 Eccleston St
London SW1W 9LX
020 7730 6922
nearest station: Victoria