Las Iguanas, Meadowhall, Sheffield – Restaurant Review
Las Iguanas, Meadowhall, Sheffield
by Richard Jones
Iguanas aren’t exactly fussy eaters – they eat a large variety of plants and fruits, as well as worms, crickets and even baby mice. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of my six-year-old daughter Evelyn who is far less adventurous than the lizards when it comes to food.
One of her New Year’s resolutions (imposed by mum and dad) is to try different dishes. Las Iguanas at Meadowhall provides her with the perfect opportunity to test those taste buds. In the end, she predictably goes for the easy option of pizza from the kids’ menu. But she is willing to try a few mouthfuls of her parents’ main courses, so that is a victory of sorts, I guess.
Restaurant chain Las Iguanas is known for its buzzing city centre and retail neighbourhood venues. Its branches feature an extensive cocktail menu while its ethos is to ‘bring food alive with a bolt of Latin energy’.
Thanks in part to the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics, Brazil has become one of the world’s most desirable holiday destinations over recent years. Many of us are pining to visit the South American country.
“Bright and airy”
January is traditionally a time when we all start thinking about our summer holidays. And although a South American break was out of the question for us, we find Brazilian artwork and decor, an infectious soundtrack of samba rhythms and some mouthwatering food on a cold winter afternoon in a small corner of Sheffield. Las Iguanas’ cuisine is broadly South American. Most dishes are from Brazil and Mexico. But the menu is sprinkled with Indian, Spanish, Portuguese and African influences.
Bright and airy, the restaurant on the upper level of the food court in Meadowhall is ideal for all types of occasion. This could be a romantic date night, a gossip with old friends, a pit stop in-between shopping or, as was the case with our visit, a Sunday lunch with a twist.
Not at any time do we feel like we are eating in a shopping centre. The restaurant is well-suited for families – a mum with newborn twins and a wide double buggy has no trouble getting in or out, while my daughters, Evelyn and Isla, nine, are given colouring crayons and pictures.
Once we are shown to our booth, our waiter for the afternoon, a friendly and enthusiastic Portuguese chap called Joao, talks us through the menu. As there are so many starters and mains to choose from, it seems a bit intimidating to begin with. But Joao offers advice on how much food we should order and, in the end, he gets it just right.
Drinks-wise, Rachel and I are in the middle of a dry January detox so we go for one each of the non-alcoholic coolers – Tropical, Raspberry and Citrus. There is little to choose between the three, and as it was 2-4-1, we end up with six drinks on the table to share between Rachel, Isla and I (Evelyn was on the water), with plenty of cocktail going spare later on, should our dishes be on the spicy side.
When ordering our starters, we plump for some tapas-style sharing dishes. At £14.95 for three they are an absolute bargain. First up, there is a huge plate of nachos drenched in cheese, salsa, soured cream, chilli con carne, guacamole and jalapenos. We add honey peri-peri chicken wings and a spicy chicken quesadilla, all of which get rid of our initial hunger and prepare our palates for the main courses.
Ordering the mains is a bit more tricky. The kids are fine – Evelyn opts for the aforementioned pizza and Isla the chicken and cheese ‘Crazy Quesadilla’. Then, after a little advice from Joao, Rachel and I make our selections. We decide to practice what we have been preaching to our daughters and try something different – in this case Brazilian.
I go for Pele’s all-time favourite, the yellow-coloured chicken and crayfish curry Xin Xim (pronounced ‘shin shim’, according to Joao). The dish comes in a porcelain pan warmed by a tealight, while the creamy lime and peanut sauce has just the right amount of tangy flavour. The soft spring onion rice and crunchy green beans are cooked to perfection.
“Cumin, coriander and cayenne-infused chicken bathed in ginger, garlic and coconut sauce”
Rachel meanwhile, goes for the Bahian Coconut Chicken. We both think it tastes a bit like an Indian-style Korma dish, with the cumin, coriander and cayenne-infused chicken bathed in the ginger, garlic and coconut sauce.
Las Iguanas is very much a sharing environment. To our delight Evelyn enjoys both our main dishes, especially as they are both on the mild side. She doesn’t have to immediately reach for the water. But despite the main courses being generous, we still have room for dessert.
Mum and dad share a slab of Aztec chocolate fudge cake spiced with orange and chilli. The girls have chocolate brownie and ice cream from the kids’ menu. Of course, Evelyn wolfs hers down in the blink of an eye, and that for some reason gets me back to thinking about iguanas…
The lizards spend their days lounging in the sun to keep warm. And, as they don’t need to actively hunt for their food, they just get up for a snack when they are in the mood. So when it comes to eating, perhaps our own little creature of habit Evelyn has something in common with an iguana after all.
Las Iguanas, Level 2, The Oasis , Meadowhall , Sheffield , S9 1EP
Tel: 0114 256 8376