Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cabana - Leeds



"Her name was Lola, she was a show girl, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there."

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of Copacabana? It starts off so happy with a showgirl and a guy who works behind the bar... And then it ends with her drinking herself in to despair with faded yellow feathers in her hair. 

It's not the name of the song that is so fitting for Cabana but also the lyrics. Starting off so happy and promising, drinks flowing and smiles. Ending despairingly as you look at the bill and almost, like Lola, lose your mind. 

Dammit. 

Time to eat humble pie.


I paid a visit around 6ish on a Wednesday evening. We were welcomed at the door and shown to our table once our host had finished crashing in to another member of staff. We witnessed several more staff collisions through the evening...

Immediately D wasn't happy about the chairs. The back slopes backwards, I guess to create help a laid back vibe, not great if you have a bad back. As both of us old fogeys do. 

We were handed several menus to work through before our drinks order was taken. I opted for a ginger beer and D a Bacana Berry non-alcoholic cocktail. 

The menu consists of a few snacks, starters/sharers, skewers for mains and a small selection of other mains such as salads and burgers, sides and desserts.

I already knew what I wanted for my main dish having sampled it the week before at their opening. 

Skewers is the main concentration of the menu with them available in a range of different meats. Each skewer comes with a predetermined side, of which you can't substitute for another... I chose the lamb, which comes in one variety only 'chilli chilli lamb lamb' and it came with biro rice. (£12.95 not available outside of Leeds according to their website) 

D went for the beef skewer which comes in three different varieties each increasing in price. He opted for the cheaper option of Aberdeen Angus beef (Hanger steak) served with chips and a small pot of salsa. (£12.95 - £2 cheaper than London) 

We decided to order some guacamole and chips (£4.45 - 50p more expensive than London) to tie us over and some cassava chips to share with our mains. (£4.25 - 30p more expensive)

The guacamole was bland. We ended up pouring their hot sauce in to the guacamole to liven it up a bit. 

Guacamole and chips 

Our sides came out first and we arranged them ourselves on the table so we could share. The Cassava chips were as good as we remembered, the biro rice was nice too, the chips were tossed with rosemary and garlic, the rosemary sunk to the bottom of the pot and I couldn't taste any garlic. 

Cassava chips 

Biro rice and fries 

Then came D's main. It was a steak on a stick, a rather thin steak on a stick. He'd opted for medium rare and it was pushed from the skewer on to his plate. 


Aberdeen Angus Steak - 'hanger steak' 


This was very different from the meat I had seen hanging on skewers and dotted on tables at the launch night. 

Next up my dish. A barely half full skewer was brought to me, the lamb was also accompanied by Palm hearts and it was pushed with difficulty from the skewer on to my plate. I thought they were going to shoot straight off of my plate across the table.

Now this is where the despair started as I looked at the meat on my plate accompanied by Palm hearts (which I wasn't expecting as I hadn't read the menu properly), it's a sort of cabbage turn artichoke vegetable... My dish was so small. Small in comparison to D's steak which sat opposite me. The lamb that I did have was to be fair, was pretty good. It was ever so slightly pink in the middle and melted in my mouth. These are not big dinner plates, they are somewhere better a side plate and a dinner plate. Just to add perspective. 

Chilli Chilli Lamb Lamb 

I kept wondering if they had only brought me half of my meat and whether the next lot would be here soon. I kept looking up every time someone walked towards us skewer in hand, and my face kept falling as they walked past.

As we finished off the last of the sides the metaphorical yellow feathers in my hair faded and fell out. I sat there just like Lola remaining refined in my chair despite my despair. Unlike Lola I didn't see the need to drink myself blind, lets not be too dramatic it was only meat and it was a Wednesday after all, I'll leave the drinking myself blind to the weekend.


I should note that I also sampled a bite of D's beef, it was medium rare, it had that smokey barbecue flavours plus it was packed full of taste, but it was incredibly chewy. It took D twice as long to eat his meat as I did mine, no doubt from the extra chewing and larger piece of meat. 

We finished our mains and still feeling peckish decided to share a Brasilian overload sundae. This consists of Caramel chocolate chip and white chocolate ice cream... I couldn't taste the white chocolate. Topped with chocolate truffles and Carmel sauce. To me it was average. To D it was ice cream his favourite food.

The bill came to £45. 

Waiting staff - there are far too many. Bumping in to each other and stood around in groups around the bar. Friendly though. 

Atmosphere - the music was quite loud for an early mid week evening, I speak quite softly and D struggled to hear me and we both struggled to hear the waitress at times. 

Returnability - not likely. 




Cabana Leeds
Trinity - just opposite Trinity Kitchen 





Cabana Brasilian Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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