5 Jan 2015

My latest TripAdvisor review: Ferlin's

Ferlin’s restaurant consistently provides great service & excellent food

Insider tip – try the stuffed fish & plantain chips

Whenever my friends and I are staying in the area, dining at Ferlin’s restaurant in the village of Marea del Portillo is a must – and we usually must go more than once!

Fernando Acuña
Most people visiting this part of southern Cuba stay at a lovely little resort known as Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, which is comprised of two hotels and a handful of cabañas. Although the hotels offer plenty of delicious food at their buffets, restaurants and snack bars, it’s fun to venture off the resort property and sample some local cuisine, and Ferlin’s is the best place to do so. 

Located in the quaint village of Marea del Portillo, about 2 kms from the resort, this authentic Cuban paladar (a privately owned restaurant) provides safe, inexpensive dining that is sure to be both memorable and delectable. The owners combined their names, Fernando and Erlin, to name their restaurant, and their combined experience at the resort means they know how to properly handle and prepare food, as well as how to provide great service. Fernando has been a chef at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo for many years and Erlin is a long-time member of the wait staff.

Erlin Mara Hernández
Although they now operate a restaurant at their home, Erlin and Fernando continue to work at the resort. They have hired and trained a small crew to cook and serve, which means that their enterprise is also an asset to the local economy, creating more jobs in an area where very few employment opportunities exist. Good for them – and good for you, when you choose to dine there!

Ferlin’s offers a palate-pleasing choice of entreés, including lobster, the most expensive item on the menu; it’s about 7 or 8 Cuban convertible pesos (known as CUCs – which are very close to being at par with the U.S. dollar). Shrimp, fish, pork and chicken are also generally on the menu, as well as shrimp or lobster cocktails, fresh salads, rice or congri (rice and black beans – a standard Cuban dish) and crispy chicharitas (fried, salted plantain chips). Ferlin’s chicharitas, in fact, are some of the best you’ll find anywhere!

For those not entirely familiar with Cuban cuisine, but interested in trying something a little different, one entreé you should sample is the stuffed fish. Ferlin’s version of this classic dish is excellent! The fish is stuffed with ham and cheese, lightly battered and deep-fried. And, since Marea del Portillo is a fishing village, you can be sure the fish is fresh.

Don't forget to check out the crafts!
All the food at Ferlin’s is very fresh and much of it is from the area – some produce they serve is from an organic farm at the edge of the village, which you may notice when are en route from the resort. Tourists are often warned to be careful about eating off-resort food but you don’t need to worry about dining at Ferlin’s. They always use treated water in their kitchen, Erlin has told me, and the facility undergoes regular government health inspections.

Erlin and Fernando have definitely found their niche, but they’re not the sort of people who rest on their laurels. Every time my friends and I visit, we see something new. They always seem to be doing things to improve the place physically, such as adding a fountain or building a decorative wall. And, to enhance your overall experience, there is also a craft table that offers an interesting selection of souvenirs, including some made by the woman who runs the kiosk.

I would heartily encourage you to seek out Ferlin’s restaurant in the Marea del Portillo village and treat yourself to an excellent meal. Your taste buds will thank you!

[Here's the link to the review on TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g1404717-d3807579-r246721818-Ferlin-Pilon_Granma_Province_Cuba.html]

NOTE: The restaurant's phone number is (53) (23) 59-7070 - reservations are a good idea if you are taking a group. 

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