When you say Brazilian food to me, I am immediately transported to an all you can eat barbecue place where meat is transported around on beautiful skewers before being shaved onto the plate until you can take no more. Cabana in the Corn Exchange is a much more relaxed affair and I popped along to see what it was all about with my friend Anoushka.
Whilst I have never been to Brazil, the interior feels authentic with recycled denim for seat covers, metal piping to divide up the seating areas and a wall of chilli. Who needs a flower wall?
The menu has a little of everything although the overall theme reminds me of Nandos, with choice of sauces for items on the grill menu and the choice of 1 or 2 sides. I decided to go for things that were a little different and things that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Starters are called street food here, meaning you can have 1 each as a starter, or enjoy a selection of them for the table to share. This is one of my favourite ways to eat as it means I get to try lots of things, without having to order huge portions. On this night, we chose one each as a starter – Chicken Croquetas for me, Chargrilled Halloumi for Anoushka. The croquetas are served as balls filled with shredded chicken and light spices, deep fried and served with a Malagueta mayonnaise dip. They aren’t too spicy, just enough for a light heat that warms the mouth and builds slowly as you finish the dish. The mayonnaise has a similar level of heat so the two pair together really well. The halloumi was also good. Warmed through so no longer squeaky, it is served with an interesting guava dip that, whilst fruity has a savoury bite to it.
We had both set our minds on our main courses before we entered the restaurant. Anoushka ordered the Guava Cue Bacon Cheeseburger and I went for the Feijoada Hot Pot. The burger was just cooked through making it juicy, topped with tomato, lettuce, onion, mozzarella, guava cue bacon and mayonnaise. The bacon had been lightly marinated for a sweet flavour that works with the naturally salty flavours of the bacon with a fruity edge from the guava, similar to the jam from her starter. My Feijoada hot pot was delicious. It isn’t the prettiest of dishes to look at, but the slow cooked pork, sausage, rib meat and beef combination was delightful. When all slow cooked with black beans, the juices all combine together for something totally different, yet perfect for the cooler weather we have been experiencing over the last few days. I was expecting it to be a lot spicier and I think it would be better with the heat ramped up, to be cooled down with the sour cream swirled on top. Otherwise, the sour cream is a little bit redundant. The dish was served with a side of rice, toasted farofa, potato matchsticks and an orange slice. I loved the texture the potato matchsticks added but the farofa wasn’t needed, in my opinion.
Anoushka beat me to first choice of dessert and managed to snaffle the Peanut Butter and Jam Sundae. It is, again, not a pretty dish but the slightly salty ice cream paired with the sweet guava jam was a hit. Unfortunately it seemed to be lacking the peanut butter brittle and peanut candy that should have come with it which, is a real shame as I think the crunchy texture would have been a welcome addition. I chose the Banoffee Cheesecake which was a bit disappointing too. It tasted shop bought and had clearly been sat in a fridge as the biscuit base was soggy. The filling was nice enough with a topping of roasted almonds, although it looked a bit lost on the plate without a topping of either cream or ice cream, as most cheesecakes are served.
Dessert aside, we enjoyed a couple of cocktails and I really liked the rainbow sparkles as a rim for my Frozen Margarita as a change from salt. I expected it to be really sweet but the drink had a good slug of tequila so wasn’t overly sweet to start with.
We spent a pleasant few hours at Cabana and never felt pressured to leave. I love this about a restaurant and we had such a good catch up without being mithered or harassed. The meal arrived at a steady pace and we were kept watered when needed.
Have you been to Cabana?
We were invited to dine as guests of Cabana and not asked to pay.