Thursday, May 13, 2010


Cienfuegos is the hip, eclectic, and almost otherworldly new rum-centric lounge that just opened above the Cuban sandwich joint, Carteles, in the East Village. With a menu of Cuban small plates and a cocktail menu crafted by Ravi DeRossi of Death & Co., we dashed over on Wednesday night to get in on the scene. And what a scene it was. Difficult to get in? Casually. There's a certain air of pretention before entering. Which quite frankly, I can always do without. But that said, after some silly back and fourth about party-size, we were seated almost immediately.

And then you climb the stairs and enter straight into Havana Nights. Antiqued turquoise walls, white shuddered windows, chandeliers everywhere, high backed upholstered club chairs, and white wrought iron gates enclosing the area, we looked at each other both with excitement and a slight hesitation. Do we like this? Do we fit in? Do we want to like this and fit in?

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

A fun night out? Absolutely. But will I be rushing back? I'm thinking no, not really. While the Rosa Verde cocktail (see below) had me amped up to get on over to this place, the food was sadly lackluster. Throw a Cuban sandwich my way with a Mojito and I'll be smiling all night. But Cienfuegos failed to deliver that to me. But it should be known that half the table really got down with the food. Enjoyed the flavors. Gobbled it up. The other half, along with me, did not.
Go check it out for yourself, though, and stick with the cocktails. Because when the weather starts to warm up (again), I imagine things heat up (in a real good way) inside Cienfuegos too.

Rosa Verde: Watermelon juice, Nicaraguan Rum, lime juice, arugula, and pink peppercorns.

Hotel Nacional: Champagne, apricot juice, lime mint, and a whole lot of...Brandy maybe? Cognac? Very potent. Too potent, in fact.


Food: 20
Service: 22
Look: 15
Vibe: 10

TOTAL: 64 (sorry, guys)

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