This is a restaurant where painstaking work on the ambience is ongoing, producing a unique, personalized and significant outcome, and it may be the reason why its owners decided to name it Atelier. That French word for artist's studio or workshop, understood internationally, reflects the essence of this simple but elegant establishment, located in a beautiful old house in the centrally-located Havana neighbourhood of Vedado.
The house's reconstruction and decoration was very much influenced by the good taste of Niury Ysabel Higueras Martínez and her brother, Herdy, who preserved the best of this mansion in a beautiful combination of contemporary style and antiques. While the building's state of conservation merits praise, so does its crockery and furniture, and even its lighting.
Customers may choose between the comfortable, sedate main dining room or either of two other dining rooms located on each of the buildings two terraces.
According to Niury, the restaurant is a family-run establishment: she and her brother are the owners, and all of the staff members are related in one way or another.
Inaugurated on December 27, 2010, Atelier is open from Monday to Sunday, from noon until the last customer leaves.
While the dishes on its menu seem simple, the restaurant's head chef has vast experience in the art of cooking, and is able to satisfy the most demanding gourmet tastes.
Proof of that can be seen in a sampling of Atelier's appetizers: malanga (tarot) fritters; asparagus au gratin, and other prepared with salmon and octopus.
Main dishes include Chicken or Lamb Supreme, and a variety of meat specialties and seafood.
We would like to take this opportunity to provide our readers with the recipe for the tasty Lamb in Chocolate Sauce dish:
230 grams of lamb meat; 30 grams of unsweetened chocolate; 30 grams of fresh celery leaves; 15 grams of pepper and an equal amount of salt; and 20 millilitres of red wine
Its preparation involves seasoning the meat with salt and pepper and covering with celery leaves. Add red wine and unsweetened chocolate, allowing the whole mixture to reduce until the sauce attains a proper thickness.
In serving the dish, the chef uses a roasting pan, then cuts the meat into normal-sized strips, garnishing with rice noodles and sprinkling with capers.
A simple, refreshing and delicious bar
The Atelier restaurant's bar is a beautiful piece of furniture in and of itself, made of precious dark woods, just like the ceiling and a number of original, highbacked chairs that complement the well-stocked barroom.
And we now offer you the secret of the official Atelier cocktail, its signature drink, made with mango juice.
It is a combination of 30 ml of rum; one ounce of mango juice; 15 ml of almond liqueur; and crushed iced. Place all ingredients in a blender and serve in a cocktail glass.
Located near Havana's seafront boardwalk, the Malecón, and several luxury hotels, such as the Meliá Cohiba and the Riviera, the Atelier is on Calle 5ta, No. 511, Altos (upstairs). It has a smoking area, a wine list, food to go, recorded music and parking.