‘The energy level of Havana in the 1950s was something palpable,’ says Hermes Mallea, a Cuban-American architect and historian of Cuban design. ‘I think Bar La Rampa London has captured that in its design.’

A tribute to Cuban design

Bar La Rampa is a newly opened restaurant in London’s Fitzrovia neighborhood from a team boasting close ties to Havana and its gastronomic culture; it’s developed by the founders of MJMK restaurant group (also behind Casa do Frango and Kol), with a menu by Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of TĀ TĀ Eatery, and cocktails by Marcis Dzelzainis, previously of Sager + Wilde

Interiors of Bar La Rampa Cuban restaurant in London’s SoHo neighbourhood

Hermes Mallea acted as design consultant on the project, working alongside London-based studio A-nrd to create a space that celebrates the heritage and culture of 1950s Havana within a contemporary context.

‘Working with A-nrd studio, we weren’t looking to recreate a moment from the past,’ says Mallea. ‘Instead we wanted the best contemporary design informed by the energy of that historic moment.

‘Traditional elements like wood louvres and coloured glass walls, which had been part of the 1950s tropical modernist moment, had an important place in our interpretation. Vintage furniture and contemporary pieces in a midcentury spirit further the authenticity,’ says Mallea. 

The atmosphere of Havana 

Interiors of Bar La Rampa Cuban restaurant in London’s SoHo neighbourhood

In the tropical plant-filled indoor and outdoor dining areas, guests can enjoy dishes like the Cubano sandwich, served with pork belly, ham, and raclette cheese; foot-long pork chicharrones; and picadillo empanadas.

At the rattan bar, guests can sip a variety of cocktails, with an emphasis on mojitos and daquiris, including the Papa Doble, an homage to Ernest Hemingway’s drink of choice, and the Hotel Nacional, made with rum, lime, apricot, and pineapple.

All in all, Bar La Rampa celebrates the vivacity of 1950s Cuba without pandering to the usual clichés. 

Interiors of Bar La Rampa Cuban restaurant in London’s SoHo neighbourhood

‘I feel the design captures the sophistication and the high-energy atmosphere that was associated with the city since the 1920s,’ says Mallea. ‘Historically, Havana style was shaped by the US tourism industry – beginning with the jazz age, to the proto jet set of the 1950s. So the city felt both familiar and exotic to holiday-makers.

‘The thoughtful sequencing of areas at La Rampa creates this special atmosphere – from the sidewalk seating, through the various interior spaces and culminating at the sky-lit and plant-filled room at the rear.’ §