Finding ourselves at a loose end in Newcastle on Thursday night and not being able to get a table in Painted Elephant meant we found ourselves in an unusual predicament this week. Being with Jnr meant we were limited to where we could go, and choose to hit the chains of Grey Street and visit Las Iguanas. The promise of Cassava Fries and Caipirinha was too great for Mr. Canny to say no to, and it had been such a long time since we’d darkened their doors.
We’d forsaken the chain not on account of its offering, but more because we’ve become spoilt for choice in the Toon. With restaurants popping up on a weekly basis, even those that are spot-on consistently can be forgotten about. That said, Las Iguanas clearly hasn’t suffered from the foodie explosion as it was packed in both the restaurant and bar area. Pursuing the menu, I noticed a lot more Brazilian dishes had been added to the Latin American repertoire, much to the delight of Mr. Canny, although I doubt he’ll be sampling their Picanha any time soon! Last time we visited he ate Xinxim – Chicken and Crayfish in a creamy lime and peanut sauce. He confessed that he can’t recall what it was like back home to do a compare and contrast, so I suggested he hands his Carnival tail feathers back post haste. One glaring omission though, in our opinion, is Feijoada, which is considered to be the national dish of Brazil. I’ve had many attempts to make it myself, but the only restaurant he has eaten it in recently was the ho-hum Viva Brazil.
Protesting that he wasn’t that hungry, Canny Jnr ordered himself a plate of standard Nachos, which at £6.95 I felt were overpriced. They can be topped with a variety of bits and pieces (Shredded Beef, Chicken & Refried Beans being amongst them) for an extra £1.95, but he had them as is. If we’d arrived before 7pm Jnr could have chosen 3 items from the Tapas Menu for £14.40, which would have been better value for money.
Mr. Canny ordered his Caipirinha, which was part of the 241 cocktail offer. I stuck to a Virgin Piña Colada, which tends to be my tipple at Las Iguanas. He said his drink was a touch on the sweet side, which means if I could drink I’d probably, for a change, be able to finish one of those bad boys off. I find cachaça much too bitter for my tastes.
I ordered Halloumi and Vegetable Churrasco Skewers, which were marinated in honey and flame grilled. Served with salad and Cassava Fries, this was a delicious and filling meal for me. I’d say the description of the chunky chips as fries is misleading though, and I thought £11.95 is a little expensive for glorified cheese sticks and 3 chips!
Mr. Canny’s Moqueca went down a storm. The dish, usually served with fish, is available in vegetarian and vegan options (vegan if you omit the Farofa, which he really misses from home). Las Iguanas have a specific menu they is available on request to help those with dietary requirements pick out what is suitable for them.
Served with rice, green beans and plantain, he thoroughly enjoyed this spin on the Brazilian classic. Packed with squash, Palm hearts and spinach, he said he didn’t miss the fish as much as he expected. At £11.50 it was also a well priced dish.
Having to wait for him to plough through his food and cocktails, Jnr and I decided to order a dessert. Our inspiration came after seeing a delicious looking cheesecake arrive at the adjacent table. While the menu stated Macadamia Nuts, we detected none in the decadent Dulce de Leche sauce which was drizzled over the creamy cheesecake. Still, it was amazing, and for how rich it was we could probably have managed one a piece if we were so inclined.
Las Iguanas is a shining example of a chain that does it right. The sauces are prepared fresh by the chefs each day rather than the mass produced tasteless stuff you’d find in other high street restaurants. I do find it on the expensive side, but they run offers and vouchers if you sign up on their mailing list. Our meal came to just over £55, but with 2 cocktails I’m not sure we can grumble too much. And we love their Cassava ‘Chips’!
Thanks for reading,