Sunshine for lunch?
Looking for somewhere warm and welcoming for lunch on a grey autumnal day? We can highly recommend meeting your friends at the Left Lion, turn away from them and keep walking up Beastmarket Hill towards the oasis that is Las Iguanas Nottingham. We joined Matt the Manager and his team to review the new lunch menu and sample some of the South American specials they’re known and loved for.
Even though the restaurant was really busy, we were quickly welcomed and seated in a spacious private booth looking out across the restaurant. We were attentively asked if we had any dietary requirements and talked through the drinks menu, with a large range of options on the 2-4-1 lunch time Happy Hour. As we had to go back to work we had to divert our eyes away from the delights of the extensive cocktail list and onto the non-alcoholic options. The Citrus Cooler and Raspberry Cooler still hit the spot and were very refreshing indeed. Our eyes were bigger than our tummy’s too and sadly we left no room for desert but definitely next time!
I’d seen Las Iguana advertising a full menu for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets so as a vegetarian I was curious to see how it fared as it doesn’t go unnoticed that in some restaurants the vegetarian offer leaves a lot to be desired. It made a refreshing change for me when Matt talked me through the options and explained how the dishes were prepared – and without being prompted.
Natalie – Empanadas, Bahia Moqueca and Cassava Fries
Bahia Moqueca Accompaniments
Making my choice was easy and for once it wasn’t due to a lack of choice but because the dedicated vegetarian menu meant I didn’t have to wade through a sea of meat dishes to find what was available. That said, many dishes from the main menu had been adapted with a vegetarian recipe. The baked mango with brie made a refreshing change from the usual take on a pasty in the form of Empanadas, which I chose for my starter. For my main I really was spoilt for choice but the sound of the Bahia Moqueca was too tempting to resist and was new to the menu. Moqueca is the Brazilian version of chowder and my goodness it did not disappoint. The fragrance of the garlic and the taste of peppers and fresh tomatoes did not go a miss as the squash, palm hearts and spinach in the creamy coconut curry melted in my mouth. Sweet plantain, spring onion rice and pico de gallo complimented the dish perfectly and I never dreamed the sprinkles of coconut farofa would add such distinctness to an already coconut infused dish. Sarah and I shared a cheeky side of fries and of course opted for the tropical kind – Cassava Fries – which were yummy, and although made from a Brazilian root vegetable, there was definitely a taste of sweetcorn in them.
Sarah – Empanadas, Coconut Chicken and Coated Sweetcorn
To start I shared Empanadas with Natalie. I’ve seen them on the menu at Mexican restaurants before but never tried them, and I didn’t realise just what I was missing! Las Iguana brie & mango filled little pasties are gorgeous. And the corn & sweet chilli salsa is the perfect dip to spice them up. Then on Matt’s advice, I dived into one of the new dishes, Coconut Chicken from the Brazil & Beyond section of the menu. The chicken fell off the bone and it was good to see some greens on my plate with the shredded veg as the perfect accompaniment. I can never resist having corn on the cob when I see it on the menu, which came latino style with aioli and sprinkled in cheese and spices. This may sound far too much for a lunch time and I did push the boat out a little bit, but there are many lighter options I’ll be back to try too, including unusual twists on salads and some South American ciabatta sandwiches.
If you’re looking for fresh and tasty food in a warm, fun and colourful environment, Las Iguanas Nottingham is your perfect destination. We had such a lovely time with Matt and his team this lunch time and will be back for dinner and to sample the cocktail menu very soon!
Natalie and Sarah