Best Part: The Empanadas
‘Hang On’, you say, ‘Las Iguanas? I’m a pretty eager follower of the St Albans Food Scene and I ain’t never heard of no Las Iguanas!’ Well, my fictional argumentative poorly spoken chum, we weren’t in St Albans. And what is more, if this isn’t too much of a mind-sizzler, it wasn’t even midweek. We were on a bank holiday jaunt to Brighton, but look on it as a Summer Special edition of St Albans Midweek Lunch, like when the On the Buses crew went to Pontins. And there is a reason for this, which I will come onto.
So it may seem slightly unimaginative when in such a vibrant culinary hot-spot as Brighton to go to a chain restaurant, but when you have two argumentative children in tow and all the delightful bijou vegan cafes are absolutely packed it was a very welcome sight. And it is at least a chain that has not yet reached our own fair town.
What’s more, its a chain that does everything right. The welcome was friendly, the waiter handsome, the menu comprehensive and well explained and there were interactive menus for the small people. When you add the lunch menu to the a la carte (veggie and normal versions) you had almost too much choice, and not just your standard nachos and burritos but a pan-Latin selection with a variety of ingredients you don’t often come across. So of course youngest child went for a burger.
But there was the choice, at least, and eldest went for a slightly more adventurous fajita. They were very good sized portions, and as part of the deal they got bottomless squash and puddings. What is more, to my wife’s delight, they provided a goodly portion of child friendly vegetables (see review of Hare and Hounds). Eldest child was so delighted he has since written to Las Iguanas HQ to request they open a St Albans branch.
There was even a deal (in addition to the lunch time deal and the buy one cocktail get one free deal) that the children would eat free with every adult main course purchased. However, against the stringent advice of the waiter I eschewed this offer because my menu item of choice was only on the lunch menu. If anyone has seen the film ‘Chef’, as I had the night before, they would have been as unable as I was to resist the lure of a Cuban Sandwich.
The sandwich of reality did not live up to the Hollywood fantasy, being not much more than a ciabatta, if yet a ciabatta with some very juicy meat within it. I’m sure it should have been fried or squeezed or something, but it was passable.
The veggie burger my wife ordered was something of a disappointment, too, with a charred crunchiness that would have been temptingly juicy if actual meat were involved but when you’re talking about beetroot you just end up with the carbon bitterness of an unattended barbeque.
But all of this was happily accepted when the sides were tasted. Some sweet plantains were pretty much indistinguishable from bananas, but nice juicy fried bananas. And then there were the Empanadas, mango and brie in a deep-fried parcel, oozing out over the sweetcorn and chili relish.
Add into the mix a couple of very well chosen and interesting beers (it was a bit early for cocktails), and you have a super meal that satisfied the whole family. Which we cannot enjoy without travelling to Wembley. So the reason for this non-St Albans review is a call to Las Iguanas, come, join us, there are plenty of young monied families who would gladly part with their hard earned cash to taste their Latin wares.
P.S. I have since become aware of their dubious corporate policies on tipping and in no way endorse it, but the staff all seemed fairly cheerful (or desperate) so there we go.