A trip to the cinema to watch the latest chick flick, Safe Haven (recommended if you’re fellow lovers of achingly romantic weepies that feature a hunky leading man ;-), was followed by some Latin American tapas at Las Iguanas in Liverpool One.
Describing themselves as a ‘Latin American’ restaurant, they certainly have the ambience spot on. Busy and bustling but at the same time intimate, you can’t help but feel comfortable here right away. A bar serving delicious cocktails greets you as you walk through the door and the open kitchen is visible from every table.
Having previously visited South America, we can testify that Las Iguanas has brought all of the best elements of the regions restaurants to Liverpool. Although part of a larger chain, the quality of the service and food seems notably higher than the mass produced fare often found at other chains.
Voted as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2013, the staff certainly seem to really enjoy their jobs and this comes through in the form of attentive, professional and friendly service.
After taking in the surroundings, there was only one thing to do – grab a cocktail and get delving into that menu! The cocktails are grouped into regions so choose from a Passion Fruit Caipirinha from Brazil, a Daiquiri from Cuba or a Peachy Pisco from Peru.
The thing we loved most about the eclectic menu was the fact that as well as serving main meals, there was the option of ordering tapas. This was great as we got to try a range of different dishes instead of filling ourselves up on just one! Las Iguanas even have Happy Hour Tapas where 3 dishes can be ordered for just £13.80.
Our first dish of Gambas arrived and certainly matched its description of ‘Greedy Whole Prawns, split and cooked in a Garlic, Lemon and Chilli Sauce.’ The prawns had their shells still on so if this makes you a little queasy be sure to ask for them to be deshelled in the kitchen first! Plump, juicy king prawns were swimming in a yummy marinade of garlic, lemon and chilli and fresh hunks of bread were perfect for mopping up all of the surplus sauce.
Calamares – Whole Baby Calamari sliced and coated in crisp crumb cassava, served with creamy aioli were light, crisp and had some tentacles thrown in there as well for added texture and bite. The creamy aioli provided a lovely cooling dip for the hot battered calamari.
Having a penchant for all things dance inspired, we just HAD to order the Cha Cha Chorizo! Smoky Pork and Garlic Chorizo, braised with Onions in a Red Wine, Tomato and Smoked Jalapeno Sauce was so so tasty. The chorizo was so tender; melting in the mouth and the sauce was incredibly rich, tangy and had the perfect balance of flavours. Hallelujah for the chunks of bread to mop up the remaining sauce (anyone else seeing a theme here ;-)?)
This feast wouldn’t have been complete without sampling one of the delectable sounding quesadillas. A crisp, piping hot Quesadilla filed with Guajillo Chilli Mushroom, Truffle and Gooey Brie provided a flavour combination we have not tried before in a quesadilla. The mushrooms gave an earthy texture and the brie, although gooey was not plentiful enough. The addition of more brie (oozing out of the quesadilla as you bite into it) would’ve taken this dish from an 8 to a 10.
Our favourite dish of the night was the Pato Taquito. Rich shreds of Roast Duck and Caramelised Onion rolled in a Flour Tortilla and chargrilled, with a Spicy Cranberry Salsa. This tortilla was amazing, the duck was juicy and meaty and the caramelised onions and spicy cranberry salsa added a fruity tang. Unfortunately this is where the fabulous meal hit a bit of a road block. Halfway through eating the Pato Taquito, one of us pulled out a thick black hair which was wrapped up in the tortilla. We are aware that this happens and are not here to be critical about the restaurant as everything was great apart from this little slip up.
One word to the waitress and she apologised profusely and took the dish away. The manager also came over and apologised and offered to get us a replacement dish. By this point we had already eaten all of our other dishes and were full so this wasn’t necessary and they kindly took the item off the bill.
Other than that small incident (which was handled courteously and professionally), our meal was a great success. If you are looking for a casual spot for dinner, a restaurant with a bustling vibe and warm energy or delicious cocktails and Latin specialties, you won’t go far wrong with Las Iguanas.