It’s been quite a few years since I last ate at Las Iguanas, and my memories if I’m honest aren’t that good – the food always sounded good but was never executed that well in my opinion. Although the cocktails were always pretty good….
So when I was invited to go and sample their cooking at the newly opened branch over in Leamington Spa, it sounded like a good opportunity.
We headed over for lunch on Bank Holiday Monday and found the place already quite busy, ok it was tipping it down outside, so maybe people were seeking shelter, but very busy none the less! The interior decor I actually found really appealing, maybe as it is all brand spanking new, but it was worlds apart from what I remembered, it reminded me a bit of the Wahaca chain in London.
The menus are quite extensive, choices of nibbles, starters, tapas style dishes and mains from across Latin America, with Mexican staples and the more exotic.
We started off with a Brazilian Bellini - a twist on the classic using mango and passionfruit as the base – really delicious, but then it’s rare I’m going to criticise something containing prosecco! During Happy Hour you can two of these Bellinis for just £6.95, an offer that spans a lot of their cocktails.
Our service on the day was friendly and professional – the hostess was knowledgable and made sure we knew our way around the menus when seating us, pointing out the special offers and deals etc and our waitress also lovely and friendly.
I chose a Fish Taco to start, which came with a corn and sweet chilli salsa. This was an excellent start to the meal – the fish was soft and flaky encased in a really light batter and the salsa was really flavoursome. Lee chose the Chicken Wings. There was a variety of sauce choices with this, but he went for the BBQ Jerk Sauce. The wings were large with lots of meat on them, cooked well and the BBQ sauce was really good too (I kept sticking my fork in it much to Lees displeasure!) So far and definitely so good.
With so much to choose from for the main course I was struggling with decisions and in the end went for the Blazing Bird – a marinated half chicken with fries or salad and their special slaw. I chose mine to come with the Honey Peri Peri sauce, which was a good choice – sweet and spicy. The chicken itself was still nice and juicy with crispy skin, and I enjoyed the slaw which was flecked with jalepenos. The salad unfortunately was a little limp and drenched in a bit too much oil which was a slight down point. Lee went for the Mexican Classic – Chilli Con Carne. He liked seeing actual chunks of slow braised beef in this as well as mince and enjoyed the flavours, although it didn’t set his world alight. He had a side of Frijoles Refritos with his chilli, with again, great flavours. We also had a side order of Patatas Bravas, which came deconstructed as a pot of twice cooked potato cubes and a dunking pot of spicy tomato chipotle sauce and aioli. The potatoes were over coated in spices for me, but plunged into the sauces – gorgeous. In some places the presentation of the food could be tweaked a bit, but they are a chain restaurant catering to the masses, and not fine dining. By now I was eating my words a bit, a decent and enjoyable meal at a chain restaurant? With only a few slight down points here and there, none big enough to impact on the meal as a whole. Who would have thought? We were too full for dessert – a big shame as I had my eye on the Dulce du Leche Macadamia Cheesecake, one for next time maybe!
So in conclusion, maybe branded restaurants, at least for some part, are making a come back and upping their game, in my opinion anyway. Las Iguanas in Leamington seems to be!
Disclosure: We were invited to Las Iguanas to sample the menu at the new branch and the meal was complimentary. We were not under obligation to write a review, positive or otherwise, and as always all views are our own and totally honest.