Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
Cabana: An Authentic Brazilian Experience
Tel 0203 157 7027
Address: 7 Central St Giles Piazza, London, WC2H 8AD
The word âcabanaâ conjures up an image of a simple beach hut, a place to escape from the humdrum world of work. Brand-new Brazilian restaurant Cabana captures the essence of its name, offering a pleasant and relaxed environment to share tasty barbecue dishes and catch up with friends.
Created by Hush owner Jamie Barber and Momoâs David Ponte, Cabana is a pioneer in Londonâs Central St Giles plaza, the upcoming restaurant hub next to Centrepoint.
In a bleak landscape of glass, steel and concrete, Cabana is a splash of life and colour. The bright and spacious interior, comfortable couches and loop of samba and favela funk on the stereo conspire to put you at ease. Glass windows on three sides give the restaurant an almost alfresco feel.
Authenticity is a priority at Cabana; every detail is designed to evoke a feeling of Brazil. An entire wall is covered in green, pink and yellow posters stamped with bold Portuguese text. The faded blue booths are made of recycled jeans, courtesy of a seamstress in Rio de Janeiro. A collage of kites lines the ceiling, symbolic of the smiles and laughter this simple pastime brings to the children of Brazil.
Cabana is a modern-day version of the Brazilian steakhouse or churrascaria. In keeping with custom, passadores approach your table to offer skewers of various meats. These are divided among four coloured price brackets on the menu; acceptance results in a stamp of the corresponding colour on your placemat. Diners are given a coaster, green on one side and red on the other, to indicate whether they wish to be served.
The service is fast, and the staff is alert, friendly and informative. They skillfully walk the line between inattentive and overbearing. Operations manager Matthew Oreschnickâs aim is to give diners a memorable experience that will draw them back for more. He invites people to âcome in, have a good time, and learn with usâ.
Reclining in our comfy seats, my friend and I are excited about the food to come. Sadly, the starters are a letdown: the garlic bread is garlic-less, and the crispy pastels scrimp on their cheese filling. The crunchy rice boulinhos, balls of rice fried in batter and seasoned, are forgettable. Only the pamonhas, a mixture of sweetcorn, cinnamon and coconut beautifully packaged inside a cornhusk, make a positive impression.
Ambivalent after our first course, we firmly expect our main meals to deliver. Cabana rises to the challenge, excelling where any Brazilian barbecue should: the meat. The chimichurri black gold rump is moist, soft, and succulent. My companion praises the Vietnamese tiger prawns and the lamb, describing them as âcooked to perfectionâ.
The side dishes are also a marked improvement. The chunky cassava chips and paprika-laced sweet potato fries are crispy and flavourful, and the biro-biro rice is well-spiced and very tasty. Only the bland black beans detract from our delight.
Our savoury courses demolished, weâre ready to indulge our sweet teeth. Cabana offers four varieties of frozen yoghurt: natural, guava, peanut butter and caramel. The last two are the runaway victors. The peanut butter is rich and wholesome, while the caramel is sweet, creamy and leaves my taste buds weak at the knees.
The final treat is undoubtedly my favourite: the Cabana cheesecake. Its crumbly biscuit base, thick banana cream middle, smooth caramel top, and sweet and crunchy roasted almonds result in a truly exquisite combination of flavours. This decadent sin of a dessert makes most restaurantsâ offerings look like unsuccessful applicants to The X Factor.
In summary, Cabanaâs energy and character make it an ideal spot for groups to relax, converse and enjoy a fine meal. Although it stumbles on the starters, its delicious meat courses, incomparable desserts and inviting design combine for an authentic and enjoyable Brazilian experience.