John Carey

Cabana: (Brazilian) Food For Thought

By 04 November, 2012

In the first of a new series of restaurant reviews, Barnaby Simons visits Cabana in Central St Giles Piazza, which promises ‘Brasilian barbecue at its best’.

Venue and vibe (4/5)
Although Cabana’s predominantly glass-fronted exterior gives diners the chance to watch the world go by, their attention is more likely to be grabbed by the restaurant’s vibrant interior. Quirky denim-covered seating and walls papered with colourful posters surround a spacious bar, open kitchen and sizeable eating area. The background buzz of bossa and samba accentuates the lively mood.

Our chatty, attentive Lithuanian waitress shared her knowledge of South American cuisine and culture in an informal and informative manner. She talked us through the traditional Brazilian dishes, before recommending some of her favourite options. Service from all staff throughout the evening was fast and friendly.

Food (3/5)
The starters were a mixed bunch. Highlights included the spicy, succulent chicken coxinhas (£4.45) and the crunchy rice bolinhos (£4.45) – bite-sized parcels sprinkled with parmesan and accompanied by a punchy chilli mayonnaise. On this occasion, the chilli and lime-cured salmon ceviche (£4.75) lacked freshness and energy, while the cheesy dough balls (£3.95) were bland and could have benefited from the addition of a dipping sauce.

Of the main dishes, the portobello mushrooms (£8.65) were plump and juicy and assisted by some mouthwatering halloumi. Although the pork tenderloin with parmesan crust (£10.95) seemed a little too chewy, the chilli cumin lamb fillet with palm hearts (£12.45) impressed, and the stand-out main was the spicy malagueta chicken with red peppers (£9.65), which offered the taste-buds a tender and tangy treat.

Cabana’s signature deserts are a wide array of frozen yoghurts (£3.95) that provide a fun and fancy-free end to the meal.

Drink (3/5)
Cabana has an exciting and affordable range of fruity, flavoursome cocktails that are deceptively potent! The Dream Team 1970 (£6.25) came served with a flaming passion fruit, the Classic Caipirinha was surprisingly sweet (£6.25) and the Brasilian Mule (5.95) announced itself with a refreshing kick.

Disappointingly, the award-winning, medium-bodied Da’Dinas Chardonnay (£7.50 a glass) lacked fruit and complexity. However the 2005 vintage Miolo ‘Lot 43’ Cabernet Merlot (£39.95 a bottle) boasted a long, pleasant finish and was an excellent accompaniment to the chicken coxinhas starter.

The Café Cabana (£3.95), featuring a cheeky shot of cachaça, provided a rich, classy close to the evening.

Overall (10/15)
Not somewhere that takes itself too seriously, this energetic and entertaining venue is the perfect place for a fun night out with family or friends.

Cabana Covent Garden
7 Central St Giles Piazza
1 Saint Giles High Street
020 7632 9630

Photos by John Carey

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