This past weekend, I attended a food tasting session at Cabana Brasilian Barbecue restaurant in Central St. Giles Piazza to road test the newest addition to their menus; Combos.
Cabana is a fairly new concept of a small restaurant chain that opened late last year. For those that have been to Brazil or Brazilian style restaurants over here you might think of Rodizio Rico. This restaurant isn’t a Churrascaria style eatery. The quality of food is actually a lot more luxurious. They offer lobster tails, prawns, cassava chips and much more.
I put my name on the tasters list a while ago when I was approached and had been waiting patiently for my calling. I think poor Lizzy was fed up of me pestering her to find out when the tasting would be.
Saturday’s event was lovely. A few people didn’t turn up. Probably due to the horrible rain we’d had for the first part of the day. Or possibly because this event fell on St Patrick’s Day. Either way I didn’t mind. There ended up being 6 of us plus one of the guest’s children. A nice little group. A great mix of cultures too as one of the diners is a native Brazilian, a Peruvian and a well travelled diner. We talked a lot about the food we’d had, restaurants we’d been to. Where was/wasn’t authentic. We even exchanged contact details with the assurance that we hope to meet up in the future.
So back to the food. Before ordering I started off with a Caipirinha. If I think it might possibly be made well, I like to try caipirinhas in London. Of course nothing could ever match the caipirinhas I had in Rio. I’m yet to find a restaurant in London that will put a whole lime in each drink, but it wasn’t a bad effort. Better than Rodizio Rico, but that wasn’t hard.
Ok, now back to the food (really). As I mentioned before we were here to try the combos. A fairly new addition to the menu where you could order a one dish meal that would have a fair selection of meat, some sort of fries and a vegetable. The native Brazilian Aline kind of made my decision before I’d had a chance to consider the others. Rightly so though as she said the sausages in the dish “Ola” which contained papaya were amazing. The thought of sausages with papaya did sound promising. Savoury pork sausages with the sweetness of papaya. I was sold. This dish also had chicken wrapped in pork, hand cut fries and corn on the cob.
When I cut into those sausages and started tasting all of the amazing flavours of pork entwined with papaya I was overwhelmed. I’d never tasted anything like this before. Also on my plate was a cut of chicken with bacon wrapped around it. I don’t think there is much you can get wrong with wrapping bacon around anything. This was an example of that. Succulent and with the lovely salty taste you would expect. The “hand cut chips” didn’t really look authentic. They may very well have been. A machine may have been used to cut them, but in my view if you’re going to make the effort to state on the menu that chips are hand cut, at least have them looking misshaped and believable. The corn on the cob was not very juicy and slightly dry but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here as the other diners noted that theirs was fine. They served three side sauces for the table to share which were extremely flavoursome but not enough for six people. But the real winner was their sauce. Malagueta. A very tasty and spicy sauce which Aline said she daren’t try because of its spiciness. I am a fan of spicy food and so I was happy to try. It wasn’t as spicy as I thought, but it was a nice subtle kick (for someone like me who is used to much spicier) so I convinced Aline to try it and she too commented that it wasn’t overly spicy. This did also mean it wasn’t overly Brazilian authentic but in this circumstance it wasn’t a bad thing :)
Completely stuffed and topped up with caipirinhas, the waitress offered us dessert menus. As much as I wanted dessert (on this rare occasion), I knew I couldn’t possibly manage it. Especially when I was supposed to be fitting into a bridesmaids dress later that day for one final fitting. Aline and Alexandra commented that they had tried the cheesecake before and it wasn’t that great. Shame as that was the one thing I would have had. They also had “froyo” on offer (frozen yoghurt). A choice Amardeep went for with crushed peanuts on top. It looked amazing and I am sure I would have liked it, but I was so stuffed from pork all I could hope for was getting into my dress later that day.
Thanks to Lizzy for organisation, Claudia, Winona and all at Cabana for hospitality and the kind gift voucher for future use. I work very close to St Giles so only hope to visit in the future for lunch or dinner.