Cabana

When Nick and I went backpacking, one of our favourite places was South America. A big reason for that was the food; both of us love eating and make a point of trying local dishes wherever we go, so with all the various specialities there we were spoilt for choice. However, I must admit that one cuisine we didn't sample as much as we'd have liked to was Brazilian, despite having some amazing things over there (fish with mango sauce and rice, feijoda stew and pastel pastries spring to mind, as do the piranhas we caught ourselves in the Amazon). So when I recently won some vouchers for Cabana, which specialises in Brazilian food, I jumped at the chance to visit the Westfield branch as a treat after Christmas shopping last month.





When I went inside, one of the first things that struck me was how colourful the restaurant was; it reminded me of passing by favelas in Rio with their brightly coloured houses climbing up the hillsides. The happy and cheery vibe of all the different colours gave me a really relaxed, almost beachy feel.




To drink, I got a fresh limonada suissa - lemon and lime, caster sugar and soda water. It was really refreshing and a nice balance of sweet and sour, which was just what I wanted after spending my morning dashing round a shopping centre.


I was a bit addicted to pao de queijo when we were backpacking (think giant dough balls filled with cheese), so when I spotted them on the Cabana menu I had to get them. And they were lovely - fluffy, light, good hit of cheese and filling but without being too heavy. They do come with garlic butter but frankly they're so good you could eat them on their own.


For my main, I had to go with the house special of chicken in malagueta sauce. My word, that was nice. I didn't manage to get a photo but it came on a skewer in the manner of Brazilian barbecue restaurants and slid seamlessly onto my plate. That said, all the flashy presentation in the world means nothing if it doesn't taste good, but thankfully this delivered. The chicken was moist and juicy, the peppers still had plenty of crunch, and the sauce was amazing - sticky, sweet and with just enough spice to give a nice kick but without losing feeling in your lips. It was quite a lot with sweet potato fries and coleslaw though so if there are two of you I'd suggest sharing a portion each of fries and pao de queijo (which was amazing when used to mop up the sauce by the way). The malagueta mayonnaise makes a lovely accompaniment to the fries too.


I was feeling slightly full after all that but couldn't resist a dessert, so opted for a peanut butter frozen yoghurt with crushed Oreos and dolce de leite (Brazilian caramel sauce). It was the perfect way to finish - lovely creamy yoghurt, great balance of sweet caramel against slightly salty peanut butter and a nice bit of crunch from the Oreos.


Overall I loved my visit to Cabana - it had a really chilled-out atmosphere and the food tasted amazing, which are two of the main things I look for in a restaurant when I want a casual but nice meal. I'll definitely be back soon!

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