A new member of the Las Iguanas family opened earlier this month, joining The Botanist on Temple Street. Taking over a previously empty space, the new restaurant offers the same Latin American flavours as the rest of the famous chain.
The newest venue is deceptively huge, with a brightly coloured bar area, with funky booths, for drinks and tapas. Carry on past the bar, and you find the main restaurant, where you can order from the full menu.
I headed along to the launch party, and was immediately greeted with a real taste of carnival, with these fabulous show girls awaiting us.
Soon after arriving, I joined up with Bite Your Brum, The Owlet, and Devina May. We were whisked off for a mini cocktail masterclass, where we got to have a bash at making our own Caipirinha using Cachaça, which is a little like rum, but is made from fermented sugarcane juice. We muddled limes, we sloshed Cachaça about and stirred sugar, and some of us (cough, Bite Your Brum, cough) knocked entire jugs of ice over the table. We finished up with a pretty decent drink each.
Las Iguanas is famous for it’s Happy Hour, which last all day every day. You can choose any two cocktails from a selected list (they must be two the same) and get them two for one! They also offer a list of monthly specials which are also two for one.
Laura and I decided to share our choices. We started with the Watermelon Margarita which combines Olmeca Tequila, watermelon and lime. This looked impressive with it’s huge slice of watermelon, but it wasn’t really for me. It was tasty, but too sweet, and not terribly margarita like. I preferred the Ginger and Tequila Smash (Olmeco Reposado Tequila, vanilla, mint, ginger and chocolate bitters) which had a little more kick and nice warmth from the ginger.
For a starter, I chose Calamares (£6.25) which is deep fried squid in crisp cayenne and cassava crumb with aioli. The squid was well cooked and not at all rubbery, with a good crispy, lightly spicy coating.
For main, I ordered Sea Bass A Lo Macho (£14.95). A fillet of sea bass is served with mussels, crayfish and prawns in a white wine, spinach, paprika and cream sauce with spring onion rice. This was delicious, with flaky fish, and lots of the other seafood. The sauce was rich, and tasty, and I made short work of this dish.
Struggling to choose our next round of drinks, we turned to our waitress, telling her we both prefer our cocktails short and strong tasting. She suggested the Vanilla Mai Tai which is Havana Club Especial Rum, Absolut Vanilia Vodka, lime, almond and bitters. It was very tasty, but I wouldn’t have said it was strong tasting, instead leaning more to the sweet vanilla flavours. We also had a classic Cuba Libre (Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, Coke and lime).
Las Iguanas on Temple Street is in a great spot for after work drinks, and with Happy Hour and great deals on tapas, a drink and a few nibbles would be the best way to use this new venue. The main menu is well put together, and from what I ate, very tasty, but with Bodega in the next street, and with slightly better prices, I do wonder if this Las Iguanas will be more popular for drinks, and not dining. We had an excellent time at the launch party though, and after watching them dance the Macarena, I ca vouch for the fun-loving nature of the staff.
I was invited to attend the launch party, where my food and drinks were complementary. I was not obliged to write a review. All pictures, words and opinions are my own, and entirely honest.