On a recent weekend, Mr Minx and I decided to check out the new Cuban restaurant in Towson, Havana Road. Who would have thought that such a cute little restaurant existed in one of the fairly small and otherwise generic storefronts on Pennsylvania Avenue? The decor is somehow both homey and modern, with mismatched tables and chairs in a cozy room with dark red walls adorned with posters and photos of Cuba, a black-painted ceiling strung with tiny lights to mimic a night sky, and bark-shaded pendant lamps. Each table is decorated with an old cigar box and a single fresh flower in a simple glass vase. We immediately felt at home, except that we chose the wrong chairs in which to sit - beware the high-backed straw-seated ones that are not meant for lingering.
For those who are unfamiliar with Cuban cuisine, it derives from a melange of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. The Spanish influence was apparent in the shrimp and garlic sauce appetizer from the specials menu; we also sampled the black bean soup.
Havana Road's rendition of the former was fairly simple: perfectly cooked shrimp relaxing in a bowl of warm, very garlicky oil, with lightly toasted bread on the side. I liked the way that the garlic was skillfully cooked so it was toasty and brown but not burnt, giving the oil a rich mellow flavor.
Overall, we were quite happy with our meal, but then we are big fans of garlic. If you are, too, you won't be disappointed with Havana Road.
8 W Pennsylvania Avenue
Towson, MD 21204