At the end of a long, sightseeing day, we took the safe option and returned to the Plaza de Armas to seek out a restaurant. The Mina restaurant overlooks the square and we settled down to study the meal when the waiter told us that there was a small courtyard to the rear where a typical Cuban band was set to play. The setting was good, so we ordered a bottle of ice cold water and a couple of beers and started to study the menu.
A peacock and his mate wandered around the courtyard and it took amazing willpower for me to tolerate this intrusion. I really don’t like to be that close to birds! Although, I did get a bit twitchy when another cock arrived and started chasing the other around the yard. These are big birds and create quite a breeze when then take off.
Now, we weren’t overly hungry so decided to share a meal. As a starter we opted for a chicken and potato dish served on a thin slice of pineapple with egg, tomato, and guava. It was tasty, very refreshing and the presentation wasn’t bad either. For our main course, we’d opted for a sea-food grill which consisted of shrimps, lobster, and a whitefish served with saffron rice, potatoes, and a small salad. The waiter had assured us that this was more than enough for two, but I think he was overstating it a bit. With my normal appetite, I could have polished it off quite easily, but after a late lunch, it proved to be ample.
At one point in the evening, the sky seemed to threaten rain but after a spot or two, the clouds were blown away and we had clear skies above the open courtyard. Throughout the meal, the typically Cuban band played typically Cuban music to the small group of diners. The five-piece band played competently and really seemed to enjoy being there, although their female singer seemed strained and less pleased to be there. As seems to be the custom, she walked round with her contributions box at the interval, so I reckon it’s a good idea to always have some loose change or small notes in your pocket for such occasions. She was also selling CDs but we were not even tempted!
The setting was relaxing and totally pressure-free and, although not "heaving" with diners, it did get busier as the night went on. At the front, the plaza side, there was another more upbeat group of muscians playing "Cuban Dance music". The space was much more confined and it was clear that this group required, or should I say demanded, group participation. I'm never sure this is ideal when I'm trying to eat so I was extremely pleased that we'd opted for the more laid-back setting of the courtyard.
This is a friendly, low-hassle eatery with well-priced, no-nonsense food. Highly recommended if you can tolerate the antics of the active peacocks.