Charlotte and I are big fans of food that is done a little bit differently, and we certainly enjoy innovation when it comes to established restaurants.
For this reason, when we were invited to try the new spring menu at our local Las Iguanas branch in Leeds, we didn’t hesitate in accepting the offer!
Las Iguanas is a chain that I have enjoyed visiting for many years and it has done well, in my opinion, to modernise and innovate. The chain offers genuine South American food, with some excellent staples on the menu year-round but also changing seasonal options to keep regular diners interested.
Before visiting this time, we both looked through the online menu and saw that there were some fantastic new choices to complement some of the classics we had previously enjoyed. Suffice to say, we were pretty excited (both by the fact it was a Friday night and by the food lying in wait!) when we arrived last week.
As we entered the restaurant, the maître d Maddie made us feel very welcome and was kind enough to suggest a few of the new dishes for us to try. She also pointed out that we had (just!) made it in time for the 2-4-1 offer on cocktails (and importantly for us, on mocktails too).
Charlotte ordered the “apple mojo-less” as she fancied something a bit different. Being six months pregnant, she obviously hasn’t been drinking alcohol for a long time, and she said this was the closest she has come to replicating the fabulous taste of her favourite cocktail, a mojito, without consuming alcohol! I, on the other hand, indulged my taste for citrus and ordered a 2-4-1 citrus cooler. This really helped to clear my palate and represented excellent value for what it was.
In terms of food, we made the bold choice to order no fewer than three (yes, three!) starters: holy guacamole, tender lamb braised in mint, tomato & chipotle empanadas, and Vivo chicken wings. We aimed for a balance between the new options on the spring menu and some of our classic favourites.
The empanadas were a classic dish but they had been revamped with a new, scrumptious filling for spring. They absolutely burst with flavour and came with a fabulous dipping sauce, which made the most of some fresh pomegranate to lift the dish as a whole to a different level. This dish certainly had the beating of a fair amount of empanadas I enjoyed when I spent a month travelling around South America.
The guacamole was a beautiful, indulgent creamy dish that we both devoured very rapidly with the crunchy nachos. We liked the fact that you could choose whether to add coriander, fresh tomato, and other additions to each bite of guacamole.
Finally, the Vivo chicken wings did exactly what they needed to do; they unleashed a massive spice explosion on our tongues, which was followed by a lovely aromatic flavour sensation. The dish was not lost in the spice alone but had different layers of flavour.
It will come as no surprise to say that the starters really whetted our appetite for the mains that were yet to come!
For our mains, we went for two tasty sounding new dishes (and I opted for a wonderful tropical cooler as my next drink): the prawn dish “camaro a la criolla” and a smoked chipotle chicken burrito. We also ordered one portion of coleslaw and a mixed salad.
I have enjoyed several very good dishes at Las Iguanas in the past, but the prawn dish was truly spectacular. With its creamy texture and a brilliant balance of spice and aromas, it left me begging for more. The chili and garlic buttered wheat and corn tortillas were fantastic and really helped to soak up the remaining juices that weren’t scooped up by my rice.
For me, the side salad (especially when combined with the coleslaw) offered a really pleasant different texture and freshness to this excellent dish.
Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed her burrito, finding it a wonderful new addition to the Las Iguanas spring menu. The pickled cucumber offered a lovely refreshing touch to complement the moreish filling of the burrito itself. Although the dish wasn’t hugely spicy (as some can be) it had a really great depth of flavour without being overstated or pretentiously presented.
Even though we were full after our mains, we saw churros on the menu and just could not say no to dessert. When the churros arrived at our table, they came with a touch of theatre, as the churros were shaken up in a pink popcorn bag with sugar before being tipped onto our tray alongside two divine dips, one chocolate and one dulche de leche.
The churros were crispy, light, and alongside the dips amazingly addictive and indulgent. Our only complaint is that they don’t come in portion sizes of 50+ because we could have eaten a barrelful!
We left with full bellies and big smiles on our faces, reinvigorated by the brilliant spring additions to the Las Iguanas menu.
Categories: Restaurant reviews