Another new kid on the block has arrived in Newcastle – Cabana – a Brasilian Barbecue restaurant. If the Viva Brazil Churrascaria style doesn’t appeal to you, then you must try Cabana. A full menu to choose from and an even fuller cocktail menu!
After a £17 million renovation of the old Co-Op building, Cabana finds itself at home in a prime piece of Toon real estate next to the Gate and of course Eldon Square.
We were lucky enough to visit the restaurant prior to it’s official opening to preview the menu so read on for our thoughts….
Stepping through the door, I was impressed with the laid back vibe, plenty of booth seating and the quirky décor – the chairs made out of oil drums looked oddly quite comfortable! With a huge amount of space for intimate date nights and groups, the focal point of the venue is the open theatre kitchen at the back. You can watch your meat be grilled and loaded on to it’s own spit.
Getting settled at our table, we started with cocktails and appetisers while we had a catch up. The fresh Guaca-Molho (£4.95) guacamole with unlimited tortilla chips went down a storm. To be honest anything with avocado in it gets a big thumbs up from 2 of the 3 people at our table! Fresh and zingy and chunky, gotta love a thick guacamole.
The Boteco Sharing Board (£7.95) came with parmesan, honey, pork scratchings and spicy nuts. I thought it was a little expensive for what you appeared to get, but it was deceptively filling and definitely enough for 3 to share. These were the perfect bar snacks to get us warmed up for the meal ahead. Our Amazon Iced Tea (£2.95) was alcohol free and so incredibly refreshing. I couldn’t get enough of these with the fresh mix of mint, wild leaf cordial and apple juice.
With our whistles thoroughly whet, we moved on to starters. The Salt Cod Fritters (£5.45) came as a generous portion with a lime mayo dip. The flavour of the fish came through and wasn’t overpowered by the seasoning and frying preparation which can sometimes happen. Fishcakes that only taste of oil – yuk! These were so good, no one was offered a try. So good, you don’t want to share!
We also opted for the Crispy Lula Squid (£5.95) which came with a spicy Malagueta dip. Cooked well, the salt + pepper squid was tender and complimented by the dip. The real star of the starter show was actually the Grilled Halloumi with Guava Dip (£5.45) which, for such a simple dish, was delicious. Grilled on the barbecue to a char, the cheese took on the taste and hit the spot. The dip partnered well with the salty charred cheese. We all agreed we would order this again – so simple, so well done.
With the open kitchen, we enjoyed watching the huge slabs of beef and racks of ribs being slapped on the grill and being sent out to other customers. It was definitely setting us up for our main course. Meat!
We liked the set up of the main meals. You picked your meat and then had a choice of 2 regular sides or 1 premium side. This way you get exactly what you want and you don’t have to do that awkward substitution request – Or is that just me?
We opted for Chicken breast wrapped in bacon (£12.95) with the Quinoa, avocado and sqaush salad, the Pork + Papaya sausage wheel (£11.95) with Rio Rio beans and fries and the Malagueta Chicken £12.95 with fries and garlic spring greens. The Quinoa salad arrived and looked big enough for us all to share, it certainly is premium! The meat was well cooked and served at the table on a spit from the grill. The server removes the meal and finishes off your dish at the table by placing the meat. It’s a little bit of table side theatre for the oooo factor.
The sausage and chicken looked like pretty small serves compared to the steaks and the chicken breast but the taste more than made up for any problems with size! The sausage was flavourful and packed with different spices as well as the sweet taste of the mango. The Rio Rio beans were spicy and very much like a bean chilli – these went down a storm, just a shame they didn’t look very appetising when poured out of the pot! I did try to convince Paul to scoop them back in and wipe his plate just so I could take a pretty photo but you can see how that went…..
The Malagueta sauce on the chicken was the right amount of sticky sweet spice and smoke, lashed all over the meat. You know me though, I like a bit of spice, so I lashed on even more of the malagueta sauce from the condiment selection on the table. It raised it up a notch for more heat! Yum! The fries came with roasted cloves of garlic muddled in and the greens – oh my the greens were good. Garlicky, fried greens. If I go back, I’m just going to have 2 portions of those! Yum!
After our mighty feast, we couldn’t face a dessert but did wash dinner down with a couple more cocktails! Service was spot on throughout and the staff talked confidently about the dishes. Turns out one of the managers even used to be a clubbing buddy from back in the 00’s too! Small world!
Whether it is authentic or not, all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Cabana and would make a bee line to return. We’d probably even just call in for cocktails and appetisers as we liked the vibe, the music and the big windows for watching the world go by!
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