VIBRANT tapas restaurant Viva Cuba is as much loved for its music as its food and remains a popular choice among Leeds’s dining-out brigade.
The only complaint might be that the restaurant does not open for lunch.
Cue the opening of new ‘mini me’ establishment Viva Cuba Deli, located a few doors up from its older sibling on Kirkstall Road.
The only question remaining on Little Oliver’s hungry lips, was could it possibly live up to expectation?
After all, Viva Cuba serves up some of the best tapas in town from its landmark split floor premises in a former Yorkshire Bank.
A quick glance over the Deli’s menu proved a promising start, with 20 of the old ‘pick and mix’ favourites listed, among them stuffed jalapeno peppers (£3.50), cuban meat balls (£3.95) and Cuban chicken stew (£3.95).
The streamlined tapas menu has made room for new daytime offerings such as a Mediterranean inspired sandwich menu (from £3.50), wraps (also from £3.50) and basic breakfast options (£2.75).
Food options are listed on a large blackboard.
The licensed diner serves a selection of hot and cold drinks, including wine, beer and Cuban rum.
The CLT (chorizo, lettuce and tomato) is a neat twist on the classic BLT.
A typical ham and cheese sarnie uses the best Spanish serrano ham and manchego cheese.
Shelves, ceiling and counter space are adorned with exotic imports such as paella making kits, legs of dry cured ham, olive oil, breadsticks, Spanish wine and hot chocolate – all for sale.
Cuban-themed memorabilia adorns the walls.
I chose one of the ‘lunch boxes’, which all cost £4.30 each and are served with rice or patatas bravas (spicy potato wedges).
The cod cakes were perfectly crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, while the lime salsa packed a punch nicely offset by the plain white rice.
My partner perhaps underestimated the generous portion of meat that was about to land in front of him in a lamb kebab wrap (£3.50), served with crunchy salad, mint sauce and yoghurt.
The side portion of fries were polished off, but surplus to requirements.
The only real downside is that seating is limited to six high stools, and we found ourselves staring out over the drab A65.
But if Little Oliver could change just one thing it would be to replace the cafe’s incongruous Eighties music with a more authentic Latin American soundtrack.
Viva Cuba Deli is an excellent addition to the Kirkstall Road contingent, but it is not the first trendy cafe to try and tap into the local psyche.
Fingers crossed that it stands the test of time.
Viva Cuba Deli is open Monday to Saturday for eat in or takeaway from 11am to 3pm.