by Mick & Di, The Food Lovers
Havana Bar is located on the ground floor of Holiday Inn Pattaya Bay Tower, Pattaya Beach Road. This lounge bar is classy and upscale reconstructing the Cuban bars of the fascinating ’30s and ’40s when Hemmingway created the now famous daiquiris and the iconic mojito cocktail. Soaring wooden ceilings, deep mahogany-coloured leather sofas, comfy easy chairs, black and white photos from the era, huge Cuban-style chandeliers all contribute to the mood emulating a watering hole where Papa Hemingway would have been happy to while away a few hours. This bar is plush, sophisticated and unique.
We were there for an evening of slurping and sipping the wines from the award-winning wine company Stonefish International from the Hunter Valley in Australia. Founded in 2000 by Peter Papanikitas, the winery strives to produce wine that exhibits all the attributes that make viniculture in Australia a global phenomenon.
The vinous event set sail with canapés and a glass of bubbling Stonefish Cuvee Brut NV. The pouring of this crisp, clean sparkler was the perfect opener to be enjoyed with the selection of creative canapés and short bites that Executive Chef Jason Large and his brigade had prepared. These included the likes of a delightful grilled salmon and an innovative grilled pineapple and salad taco. Round 2 highlighted a Stonefish Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the fruits of the St. Margaret River displaying an appealing mix of melon, pineapple and white peach. Probably my favourite white wine of the evening which we enjoyed with Sloane’s chorizo and bacon wrapped skewers, smokedsalmon, sour cream and spring onion blinis. Round 3 produced another excellent white variety namely the Stonefish Chardonnay.
Executive Chef Jason Large and his brigade had excelled themselves with a selection of creative canapés of Aussie style pulled pork, rare roast beef with cumin cream cheese, grilled zucchini and red pepper and a star black pudding with green apple, crab salad and crispy ham. It was a pleasure to trawl the tables enjoying the global cuisine generated from this inventive kitchen. Stonefish Merlot followed with tastes of ripened berries and subtle whispers of spice, vanilla and oak and proved the wine of choice for both Mick and me that evening which we enjoyed with the generous selection of cheese, breads, sticks and grissini together with premier olives, cornichons and baby pickled onions.
The last two rounds offered Stonefish Cabernet Sauvignon and a Stonefish Reserve Shiraz. The Cabernet Sauvignon displaying a rich fragrant bouquet of ripe fruit and earthy aromas which made perfect friends with more of the artisan cheeses and brioche bread while the elegant rich and jammy Shiraz gracefully brought down the curtain on our gleeful wining and dining.
These wine tastings are staged monthly at B.990 and are excellent value for money and great fun affairs. Holiday Inn Pattaya hosts an enjoyable cordial evening with live music, happy friendly staff together with a posse of wine lovers who enjoy every drop of a goblet or two with great humour and conviviality. It’s certainly a fun evening.
Although Havana is the signature bar/restaurant of Holiday Inn Pattaya, all food and drinks on their menu are inclusive of service charge and government tax. Happy Hour (offering two for one) runs from a convenient 7 till 9 pm. Overall the prices are in line with a quality bar/restaurant and the diversity of their rums, single malts and Belgian beers are considerable, while wines are sourced from around the world and offer something for all pockets.
The menu is eclectic: modern Italian meets cosmopolitan American in Asia. From pizzas, pasta, antipasti and salads through Asian noodles and Thai snacks to bar bites and burgers, it’s across-the-board cuisine sweeping the foodie favourites of visitors from around the world.
The burger platters are huge. We challenge Godzilla and King Kong on one of their date nights to finish the Chicken BLT/burger (B.350); it’s massive, stacked with fried chicken breasts, crispy bacon, tomatoes, mayo and homemade tomato relish all served in a hefty bun and accompanied by Havana Bar’s onion rings and “fat chips”. Chunky fat fingers of potatoes, still in their skins, are fried to precision and seasoned with paprika, rosemary and garlic. These are fantastic and, in my view, definitely worth the extra calories! Other varieties include the classic all-American with Cheddar cheese, dill pickles, and a battered and fried white fish burger with lettuce, onion and tomato with tartar sauce.
Pizzas are much in demand here and usually enjoyed on the large terrace overlooking the bay of Pattaya. Frutti di Mare is always a popular choice with Quattro Stagioni coming in a close second. Meat Lovers are well catered with this pizza laden with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pork sausage, bacon, cooked ham and salami. There are a dozen varieties with a bespoke “build-your-own” coming in at only B.395 for your own choice of sauce and four specially chosen toppings.
Holiday Inn Pattaya is to be congratulated in creating a stand-alone bar/restaurant that will attract the patronage of their hotel guests, locals and tourists alike. It’s an atmospheric spot evoking the old style Havana glamour tempered with an up-to-date fusion. The pricing is realistic and the food big on quality and quantity making Havana Bar a distinctive leisure destination.
Check out their website for their monthly wine tasting event.
Holiday Inn Pattaya
Open daily from 11 am till 1 am
Tel: 038 725 555