I attended this event at Las Iguanas, upon invitation, on the behalf of friend and creator of this blog, Antonella. As my first menu tasting affair, it’s safe to say I was excited due to my love for food and the location already taking place as my favourite chain. Controversial opinion I know, but I’ve got a lot of fond memories in their vicinities so each to their own.
We arrived a tad fashionably late and were ushered through the busy entrance to our table, in which we were recommended popular options on the menu. I have always been impressed by their extensive cocktail menu so was intrigued to try their new offerings, and to take advantage of their 2 for 1 deal that appears to be a constant money saver for all customers. We couldn’t help but delve into the new experience so ordered their new-fangled Chilli Paloma and Pear drop Caipirinha.
As we settled in our seats and waited for our drinks to arrive, we noticed the new décor of the venue. Bright in colour with an array of blues, reds, yellows and the earthy tone of wood, it manages to perfectly balance class and originality. It promoted a positive and easy-going atmosphere which made the evening all the more enjoyable for the pair of us, and seemingly everyone around who were clearly enjoying themselves. The staff were kept busy with a full restaurant of both invites and walk-ins, however, at no point did we feel as though we were forgotten about. We were regularly checked on between courses and their efforts to make everyone feel content was recognised.
Our drinks arrived after a short wait and with a similar pallet, my boyfriend and I instantly fell in love with the Pear drop Caipirinha. It differed from anything that we have tasted in the past, and we both commented on how delicious and therefore moreish they were. We will definitely be back to sample more of these when letting our hair down on a weekend in the near future. The Chilli Paloma was surprisingly refreshing as the kick was disguised by the flavour of grapefruit, which contrasted was with the sprinkling of salt around the rim of the glass, similar to a Margarita. I am a fan of a fruity cocktail but appreciate innovate creations, so was happy with our choice. It’s safe to say that I approve of Las Iguanas’ new additions.
The starters closely followed in perfect timing. I opted for the Albondigas which consisted of three large succulent lamb meat balls, flavoured with apple, mint and nutmeg. The sprinkle of parmesan across the top and the rich but subtle chilli sauce provided my throat with the correct amount of warmth, without overpowering. To switch to the other side of the spectrum, my partner ordered a generous portion of muscles which were swimming in an extremely flavoursome, lightly spiced lime, coriander and coconut sauce. He was pleasantly surprised with how fresh the shellfish were. Both dishes were accompanied with ciabatta, but we mutually loved our sauces so much that our only criticism would be that the ratio was a little off. Perhaps that’s our foodie ways shining through and I’m sure that additional bread would have been provided upon request, given how eager the staff were to ensure that we were satisfied.
The main menu was spit into different countries of South America, including Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Beyond. It was interesting to scan over the different dishes as an attempt to educate myself on each countries speciality. We were both drawn to the Peruvian page but similarly to our starters, our orders couldn’t differ greater. I went for the Cauliflower and Corn Quinotto; a risotto made from quinoa. I first noticed the presentation and the smell which increased my eagerness to tuck in! The change from rice to seed was noticeable as the texture was dryer and stickier, so I must say that it was different to anything that I have ever tasted. However, it wasn’t a negative aspect as it tasted lovely due to the heat running through the relatively healthy main.
I have got to admit that the star of this meal had to be the lamb shank that my partner ordered. It was advertised as the Seco De Cordero and the food envy quickly became apparent. It was slow cooked in the most delicious golden ale, red wine and Amarillo chilli sauce, accompanied by sweet potato mash and crispy onions. The meat quite literally fell off the bone and I had to stop myself from pinching bits off his plate on numerous occasions. The presentation was smart, and it was admitted to be one of the best shanks he has ever eaten.
As if the delightful food and hit-the-spot cocktails weren’t enough, before leaving we were treated to a personal Caipirinha making class. I was especially impressed by the friendliness and knowledge of the mixologist and his ability to educate us on this typically Brazilian cocktail. We were mutually surprised to hear that Las Iguanas actually have their own distillery in Brazil to create the required spirit; Cachaça. With no bartending experience between us, the expert put our pouring skills to shame, but it was a fun and interesting way to end an evening.
I had forgotten that we were in a chain restaurant as their passion and attention to detail really shone through. I can’t say I’ve ever had any major grumbles over the course of my multiple visits, so I still stick by Las iguanas being the best franchise; I urge anyone to try and change my mind.