We've been trying government restaurants in our Havana neighborhood. The food is super cheap, but unreliable. Sometimes it's pretty good. Other times, horrible.
Last night's attempt was horrible. (One of the pictures with this post shows the dish we got. You'll know it when you see it.) The restaurant was out of stock on most menu items. Whatever we did order involved an unidentifiable flavorless mass of animal flesh, rice-and-beans (not sure how you fuck up rice and beans) and some mystery side dish.
We couldn't do it.
So we went to check out a privately owned restaurant called 4You, which opened ten days prior.
The decor was brightly lit, cheerful and tasteful (a description you cannot apply to 99.9% of cuban restaurants).
A window at the back of the dining room revealed the tiny kitchen, with three men cooking (actually it was mostly one man cooking and two helping and/or watching).
Everyone in the restaurant took fine dining very seriously. (You can tell how seriously a chef takes his work by how close his face gets to the food he's plating.)
We had an enormous, freshly prepared chicken and rice dish, tricolor fettuchini in a cream sauce, a salad and sautéed vegetables.
It was very good.
The one was the kind of food that should and probably will be phased out over time. The other was the future of Cuban food.