Back in 2012, Cuban-style rum bar and cantina Revolucion De Cuba was one of the very first restaurant bars to open on Peter Street.
Now a buzzing nightlife strip, it’s not that long ago that the stand-out landmark at that end of Peter Street was the Scientology building.
Queues frequently ran down the street as eager partygoers waited in line for entry into the Latin American-inspired hotspot with a basement nightclub and a backbar stacked with more than 50 of the finest rums from the Caribbean and Latin America.
It has been a staple on the Peter Street nightlife scene ever since – long before the likes of Impossible, Alberts Schloss and Peaky Blinders opened their doors. Some might even say it kickstarted the regeneration of that once quiet part of town.
Seven years on and it’s still going strong.
We arrive on a Friday afternoon around 4pm, just as the after work crowd is settling in, and there’s already a relaxed party atmosphere in the air.
Salsa music is playing on the stereo, groups are piling in for after work and post-shopping cocktails and nibbles and the atmosphere is fun and heady.
We start with a couple of cocktails – taking full advantage of their Friday 2 4 1 happy hour. It is the weekend now, after all, and we don’t have anything to be getting up for tomorrow.
I opt for a Mangoni – a mixture of Bacardi cuatro rum with mango puree and a hint of lime. Viscous and sweet with a sharp hint of lime at the end, it’s a fine, fruity daiquiri.
My dining partner goes for a Painkiller. No, not a pill but a seriously strong drink. It’s aptly named.
The Pussers gunpowder proof rum hits you straight away. Its sweetness is deceptive, with strong overtones of pineapple followed by coconut and a slight hint of cinnamon. Set on fire in true tiki fashion, it’s a great party starter – but beware of the day after hangover if you drink too many of these.
As we look over the menus, we’re served some complimentary chips and to accompany it opt for a ramekin of their homemade guac which comes out peppery and creamy, with a tart hint of lime. We hoover it up as we pore over the menus which are designed in a quirky newspaper style.
Moving on to the main event, we start with a selection of their new tapas dishes, opting for a little of everything: beet and avo tacos with white bean, spring onion and chillies; hot and creamy jamon croquetas; a mixture of crispy tostadas; smokey mushroom quesadillas; a dish of heritage rainbow carrots and a bright and fruity poquito salad.
Enticed by the promise of accompanying rum mayo, we ask for an old favourite too: the mojito king prawns. Fried in Rev’s signature mojito batter, they’re considered a signature and are not to be overlooked.
It is served on big platters and looks fantastic. Bright, colourful plates make the mains pop straight away. We can’t wait to dig in.
The beet and avocado tacos are cleverly done. The beetroot is minced and roasted in such as way that its texture seems almost meaty. Smeared with guac on the bottom and garnished with a little bit of zesty lime, fresh chilli and scallions they go down a treat.
The heritage carrots, meanwhile, are sweet and a little acidic all at once, having been glazed in brown sugar and smoky Capia pepper pesto.
Served with lime, butternut squash puree and crunchy butternut squash crisps, they’re a surprisingly moreish dish with a smokey BBQ edge to them. We keep going back for more.
The poquito salad is refreshing and bright and is piled high with plum tomatoes, baby spinach, red chard, avocado, blackberries and pickled onion and drizzled in a mango chilli and lime dressing and extra virgin olive oil. A hint of mint keeps everything light and summery.
Despite being pretty full, we dig into two of the new mains: the self-proclaimed ‘authentically cuban’ beef ropa vieja – a huge plate of slow cooked shredded beef with charred onions and mixed peppers in a spicy tomato sauce – and the fantastically-named rumba chicken.
The beef ropa vieja is huge and comes served with zesty rice and butternut squash chips – a veritable feast which we struggle to finish.
The rumba chicken, on the other hand, is a great option for anyone after something a little lighter. Hot and spicy chicken gives a warm kick, but is well balanced by an accompanying salad of marinated sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, coriander and sour cream.
At this point we are ready to burst, but our server persuades us to finish off by trying their churros and a cafe cubano – which he tells us is unique to Revs. Comprised of two shots of espresso, layered with a smidge of caramelised demerera sugar in between, it’s sweet and easily drinkable.
The churros are cooked to order, and there’s an extensive selection on offer.
After much consideration we opt for a mixture, ordering some of their stuffed nutella treats as well as the traditional rings which come accompanied by a range of sweet and moreish sauces from buttery rum and rich chocolate to a tart-yet-sweet raspberry (our personal favourite).
Revs are beloved for their tapas – and we can see why. They’re also got one of the best happy hours in Manchester – as evidenced by the buzzing atmosphere before it even strikes 5pm on a Friday afternoon.
As we leave the party’s getting into full swing and the venue’s filling up fast as a funky live band kicks off in the corner.
If you’re looking for a fun night out with well made cocktails, great live music and a few nibbles, you can’t go wrong here.