The latter means that I can feel far less guilty about the visits I’ve made in the meantime, including trips to the Deansgate site, which has now undergone a fabulous revamp and relaunch. Alongside this, they have some new tasty treats on the menu, so what better opportunity than to revisit and explore everything new.
What you’ll notice about the setup when you walk in, is that the bar is bigger (all the better to serve you caiprinhas from), everything has been lightened a little, and feels a little more vibrant too, a little less flat.
We were also able to take advantage of their 2 for 1 cocktails, which has now been extended from a happy hour, to all day which given the prettiness of their margaritas (not to mention the glasses they are served in) means a long lunch could get a little dangerous.
Suitably lined up with cocktails, it was time to pick our meal. As you’d expect from Las Iguanas, there’s a selection of Mexican dishes, burritos, quesadillas, and fajitas, but it’s stepping away from the familiar that you’ll find the more exciting dishes. Hit the Brazil menu for something a little meatier, Argentina for steaks and burgers, and for something a little more off the beaten track, try the Peru & Beyond menu. We were somewhat undecided, so opted for starter dishes from the tapas menu first, something to whet our appetites.
The lightest of the options we selected was the smoked salmon tiradito. Smoked salmon with a tiger’s milk dressing (lime, fresh ginger and amarillo chilli), with pink pickled onions, spicy sweet sharp roquito peppers and a little fresh coriander. The sharp marinade, and crunch onions, cut through the richness of the smoked salmon, and I adore those little piquant peppers that pop in your mouth with a crisp sweet, sharpness.
Our third selection was the jackfruit tinga tacos. Pulled roasted jackfruit, smoky beetroot chipotle sauce served on top of two blue corn tortillas and topped with pico de gallo and avocado aioli. These vegan friendly tacos were sharp, and soft and warm, and astringent and perhaps my favourite dish of the starter selection. The freshness was the perfect warm up for our main selection.
Speaking of which, as you’ll see from our mains, we probably should have just shared the tacos to start, but apparently we like to learn the hard way.
For me, I took the recommendation of our server and went for the Bahian coconut chicken. Chicken breast pan-fried in cumin, coriander and cayenne, cooked in a coconut sauce with ginger, garlic, tomatoes and more coriander, before being served with spring onion rice and kale. The chicken was tender and soft, the curry rich, spicy, and fragrant. And I was so pleased to see the portion of rice wasn’t over-facing. It was a comfortable portion, rather than the giant bowl I’m often served, that I know I’m going to waste before I even sample the dish.
My date opted for the carne de sol – another new menu dish. Slow-cooked salt cured beef top rib is served with cassava mash, greens and topped with a beef and onion gravy and crunchy cassava chips. This dish is delicious, but rich, and heavy. And after sampling three tapas options beforehand we both found ourselves with a mountain to climb. We were somewhat defeated, and I would definitely recommend that the latter of the two dishes is one only attempted after the merest morsels of starter.
After a brief respite, and a little cairprinha master class (my muddling technique is apparently spot on), we attempted dessert.
I went for a favourite, churros with dulce de leche. I admit, I don’t overly dunk them, but just a little of that rich caramel is enough to satisfy a sweet craving. And don’t worry, if you’re a chocolate fan, they do have a chocolate dipping sauce, and a lot of other chocolate puds on the menu.
My date also shied away from the chocolate puddings, and went for the caramel cake. A soft syrupy sponge soaked with dulce de leche, then topped with caramelised cream and fresh blueberries.
Overall, the new look reflects the new menu options. I’m definitely leaving the Mexican behind – it’s perfectly nice, but why go with the familiar, when you can explore a little further?