Wednesday, 26 March 2014


I don't really frequent chain restaurants unless I have to (due to friends birthday commitments, etc) but I was invited to come and enjoy a meal at Las Iguanas in Leeds by their marketing team a few weeks back. Thinking about how many people frequent these on a regular basis I thought it would be a good opportunity to test the waters and to see how I would get on.

Arriving on a Thursday evening around 6.30pm with my cousin, we were greeted warmly and seated in a comfy cornered area of the restaurant. Our host gave us a selection of menus for the food and drinks on offer, including a general food/drink menu, early bird menu, gluten free menu and vegan and vegetarian menu.

Opting first for a cocktail we went for the Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail which was priced at £6.20 but just so happened to be in there 2-4-1 happy hour deal. It arrived in a tumblr and was a concoction of whole lime chopped, muddled with sugar, folded with Las Iguanas' own Magnifica cacha├ža & crushed ice.

We ordered a starter to share which was from their tapas menu, my cousin chose the Pato Taquito which was described as rich shreds of roast duck & caramelised onion rolled in a flour tortilla & char-grilled, with a spicy cranberry salsa, priced at £5.60.

I sampled one of the rolls and the sauce. It was moist, fresh and juicy and cranberry sauce was sweet and tangy, but maybe a bit too sweet for my liking. Overall not a bad choice.

On to the mains! This is what I was looking forward to. Eyeing up the menu before I got there I already new what I wanted. I dived straight in and went for the Churrasco Fiasco, a skewered flame grilled honey-glazed rump steak with red onion and peppers in a paprika and cumin marinade. It was served with cassava fries peri-peri sauce and a side salad and priced at £14.50.

On arrival it looked very impressive. On testing the rump steak it was cooked medium-rare and had a good hold to it. It was not chewy and had a nice bite to it with a good texture. The flavours of the marinade and flame grilled vegetables were a nice accompaniment. The peri-peri sauce however was a little disappointing. Quite sweet and would be comparable with something you'd purchase of the supermarket shelf.

The cassava fries were extremely interesting to eat and reminded me of a potato croquette... which instantly brings memories to Napoleon Dynamite and those odd times where I forgot my packed lunch at school and would get a school dinner. Nostalgic as they were, they were also a nice melt-in-the mouth surprise.

My cousin ordered the Chicken Fajitas, priced at £13.90, which are described on the menu as a special mix of coriander, lime, paprika, cumin, onions & peppers with chicken breast strips. All their fajita's are served in a sizzling hot plate with chunky guacamole, soured cream, jalape├▒os, home-made tomato salsa, soft wheat tortillas and the option of cheese.

The fajita's were good but in my opinion nothing jaw-dropping. They were enjoyable and the DIY aspect of it was a nice additive to the meal too. With Mexican food I find it hard to have WOW factor as it has become so commonplace in chain and independent restaurants as well as being easily made at home due to packet mixes and sets in supermarkets.

Overall it was not a bad meal at all and I was thoroughly impressed by what was on offer. Our meal for two 2-4-1 cocktails, a starter, another cocktail, a beer and two mains would have come to a total of £49, however due to the nature of this visit it was covered by their agency.

I would not go running back there as my restaurant of choice, however, if I was in the situation where I needed to choose a chain restaurant to visit it would be my go-to restaurant.

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