I’ve expressed my love for Las Iguanas on here previously, and how it opened me up to a host of Latin-American inspired food, so much that I’ve re-created my own coconut curry based on their menu. Las Iguanas isn’t the only restaurant like this that I’ve been to: Chiquitos is always good fun, albeit not a vegan-friendly menu, so since giving up cheese I’ve yet to return. Just about everyone has visited Chipotle, but the prices aren’t too pretty. Cafe Sol, Desperados, Tortilla and Chilango are supposed to be good spots too.
Cabana is the newest kid on the block, another Latin American food chain to join the others on our high streets. It has a cool vibe, a mixture of the imaginative upcyling found in Nando’s, and the colourful fun of Lassie’s. I’ve been to two branches: Brixton and Covent Garden. Both had friendly (but at times snappy) customer service and the food came promptly. However, the food isn’t all that great.
Firstly, the starter: I ordered sweet potato hummus which came with toasted pitta bread. You can’t really mess up hummus so there’s not much to complain about. However, the Cabana version of Lassie’s Moqueca de Palmitos is bland. The Bahian Veggie Coconut Curry, the only vegan main on the menu, is an odd mud colour, with such tiny pieces of sweet potato they may as well not be there. There’s some other ingredient–maybe lemon–that gives the whole thing a tangy, metallic after taste. There was no where near enough rice to soak up the amount of curry provided on both visits, but they made an effort by adding in spring onion. Sadly, some of the rice was hard. Presentation wise, it was quite pretty, but could have been better. One way that the Covent Garden branch differs is by the huge dog bowl they served the curry and rice in. Not pleasing on the eyes.
Now desserts. No vegan options. However, when I went to the Brixton branch near the beginning of the year I was having one of my “backsliding days” and I ordered the Chocolate Raindrop Doughnuts. Arguably the best thing on the menu: sweet and moist doughnut drops that reward you with a mouthful of Nutella on the bite. They give you a dish with extra Nutella for dipping too! So, if you’re as flaky and as thin-skinned as me when it comes to non-vegan temptations, you might want to order yourself a batch of these to go and just skip the main meal altogether.
For drinks, I had a virgin pina colada. Once again, you can’t mess it up, but it wins points over Lassie’s fraudulent half-ice-half-liquid mocktail portions.
Some things to shout about: nice atmosphere, great dessert, friendly staff
Some things to rant about: not enough vegan options. This is Covent Garden and Cabana is situated opposite the Vegan Shangri-La, Neal’s Yard. Vegans are better off heading over there. Also, the curry could do with some different seasoning.
Cost (seeing as though this is Friday Basket time): pretty average for London prices, which means it’s a bit of a scam. For a starter, main, dessert, drink and side you’re probably looking to spend close to £30.