Live Latin. This is the philosophy of Las Iguanas through and through. Inspired by Latin American culture and cuisine, you may know Las Iguanas brings a largely Mexican and Brazilian influenced menu packed with personality and flavour. With native Latin American Indian, Spanish, Portuguese and African inspiration too.
Now with many restaurants now across the UK. the restaurant haven't lost touch with their roots; still bringing carefully sourced ingredients and authentic recipes to our British tables. To cooincide with their new Autumn offerings, I went along to my Leicester branch to try out the latest menu.
I begun with one of their new cocktails, Smoking Plums (£8.50). This was a spicy and smokey combination of Bru-Xo mezcal (a Mexican spirit similar to Tequila) with calvados, plum preserve and bitter lemon, served with charred smoking cinnamon. The perfect Autumn cocktail. My friend Scarlett tried their Virgin Pina Colada (£3.30), a great alternative to your everyday soft drinks. They have some great Happy Hour deals on their cocktails throughout the week - so make sure you look out for those too!
To start, we shared the Quinoa Ensalada (£4.95) and the Black Bean Bolinhos (£4.95), which are both new on the menu. I believe bolinhos are of both Portuguese and Brazilian origin, and come in the for of a fried rice ball which can come in the form of sweet or savoury. In this case, it was packed full of black beans and shredded greens before being coated in panko breakcrumbs. These are actually of Asian origin but I find the panko to be a chunkier breadcrumb perfect for the likes of crunchy scotch eggs.
Alongside came contrasting dips of sweet plantain and ‘Las Iguanas’ salsa - which was like a smooth and galicky guacamole. The waitress advised us to break open the bolinhos, add both dips and devour in one bite. She wasn't wrong.
The other starter was a jam packed medley of quinoa, black beans, sweetcorn and sweet potato, with gucamoles and a Brazilian molho à campanha; a tomato, chilli, onion, pepper, parsley and lime medley. It was served with cranberry chilli salsa, roquito pepper drops and topped with crunchy corn tortilla strips. A really lovely dish to behold - very fresh and will so many textures going on. I'd be happy to reorder this one as a main.
For main, Scarlett opted for Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash and Chickpea Chilli Burritos (£9.95), a new flavour to the tortilla offerings, which all come with spicy chipotle rice, refried beans, pickled cucumber, slaw and crumbled cheese. There are brilliant vegetarian and vegan options, with even a menu dedicated to their offerings to make ordering that little bit easier. The same can be said for gluten free dishes, as well as meals that can be adapted to be gf.
For my main it had to be the Picanha Steak (£16.50). This marvel was a chargrilled 8oz rump cap steak, a cut which sits at the heart of the rump steak which is popular in Brazil. It is then sliced very thinly, sprinkled with sea salt and served again with molho à campanha. With a choice of chips and sauces for the side, I went for sweet potato fries and a herb chimichurri.
Although the picanha is a fairly fatty cut of beef, the method of cooking and serving in such thin slices allowed it to be tender whilst retaining high flavour impact. The sauces added a certain freshness, zest and spice synonymous with South American food, whilst the crisp sweet potato fries were a delight to feast on. (Apologies for the photography here though - the lighting just doesn't do it justice!)
Have you tried the Autumn menu yet? Have you been to your local Las Iguanas?
13-15 belvoir street
Note: We dined as guests of Las Iguanas. All opinions as always are honest and my own.