Perfectly cooked, tasty Brasilian barbecue food, topped off with rich desserts and strong, refreshing drinks.
I am writing this on my train home from London whilst still on a mega food high. I enjoy eating food from different places around the world but find that a lot of places get so samey and boring. So I was delighted to find somewhere new nestled amongst the many restaurants I’ve come to know at Westfields in Stratford.
Cabana is located with the outside food joints to the side of the shopping centre. Steve and I actually planned to go to the restaurant next door but the smiling hostess and bright, inspiring menu lured us in. Sat in the covered outside section was great even on a night like this and the rustic benches and slightly wobbly tables gave a real relaxed holiday feel.
From the moment you walk in the door Brasil comes alive in your senses, largely due to the big open barbecue just inside the door. Cabana serves a mix of meat-based dishes, chicken, pork and beef but there is a selection of veggie and fish dishes and lots of sides and street food too.
We started out with a jug of Rio 2016, a Brasilian version of sangria containing red wine, cahaça (Brasil’s national rum-based drink) and juice. After the initial blow-your-head off sip, the drink becomes very tasty and refreshing, although don’t drink too much before you eat. To soak up the booze we tucked into a bowl of plantain crisps and guacamole, also known as Guaco-Molho. Don’t fear that the banana looking plantain would ruin good dip, the crisps are baked to perfection and aren’t overly sweet.
Steve on starters:
After serious pondering over the menu with the flaunting aromas of the kitchen making my decision harder I chose to try the Brasilian cheese dough balls (Pao de Quejo). This native dish looked the same as your average pizza express dough ball, but with the first bite the snack had me hooked! I tried one with the Malagueta Kick sauce present on our table, warning – this will make your taste buds tingle and your nostrils flare!
I am a big fan of bbq food as you will soon learn, so the pulled pork filled dough balls sang out from the menu for me … and I wasn’t disappointed. The pork was tangy and a little spicy from the Malagueta marinade but so tasty that my senses were alive with pleasure.
On to the main and I thought I couldn’t have anything else but the skewered meats we had seen on the way in and been smelling all throughout our meal. Served on a skewer, several feet tall, the meat sizzles like a fajita skillet as the waiter serves it onto your plate. I accompanied my huge chunks of chicken and pepper with sweet potato fried (all I can say is DO IT) and the Brasilian Homeslaw, made with carrot, mango and crushed cashews – delicious and not at all too sweet.
Steve on mains:
When deciding on the main course, the dish that took my eye was the Picanha Burger with optional Malagueta pulled pork. Made with the cap of rump and with chilli mayo and other numerous trimmings contained in a brioche bun, this well presented burger was worthy enough to be adorned with the flag of the country it so proudly represented. The patty and pork blended perfectly with the garnishes and with each bite my appreciation grew. The rosemary and garlic fries complimented the main dish and completed the burger and fries experience that all burger lovers seek.
And then there was dessert …
I wasn’t sure I could manage dessert but though it was my duty as a foodie to continue this taste exploration. Our waiter strongly recommended the Cabana Cheesecake but as I am really not a cheesecake fan, he couldn’t win me around. I chose the caramel and brownie fro-yo sundae; caramel frozen yogurt, chunks of brownie, chocolate sauce and peanut candy. Basically if you like caramel, chocolate and peanut, this will be your dream in a glass, it disappeared in minutes!
Steve on dessert:
To finish, with me having such a sweet tooth, I had the Nega Maluca or chocolate cake. Lightly drizzled with caramel sauce and with a dusting of powered sugar the first bite was warm and soft. Unfortunately I didn’t order my cake with the optional small frozen yoghurt, a choice that I regretted almost on first spoonful, as the cake is a little dry without. Luckily my friend offered me a small spoonful of hers that really set the cake off.
Overall experience … This place was a really great find. I left Cabana feeling excited to tell people about the food I had eaten. In this day and age it is easy to find places offering food from around the world, but it isn’t so easy to find food that truly excites your taste buds and heightens your senses. This food genuinely tasted as though a Brasilian mother was sat in a kitchen cooking you her favourite dishes just to put a smile on your face.
Check out Cabana in Westfields Stratford, Westfields London City or Covent Garden. For a sneaky peak at their menu visit http://www.cabana-brasil.com/menu.php.