UPDATE: 25/06/2017 see bottom of post-
I love Las Iguanas. It’s a favourite with our family and we’ve been going for several years, the first being the branch at Royal Festival Hall in London, not long after they’d just opened up I imagine. We were really impressed with the whole experience, the food and the Latin-American music in the background which gives it a great atmosphere. The staff are all very friendly too and if ever you have a problem they are very good at customer service, that’s with all their restaurants, not just this particular London one.
When we weren’t visiting London we eventually found one in Bath and Brighton. Then success! Las Iguanas opened up a restaurant in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth my home town. Gunwharf Quays used to be a Naval base in my youth but now it has a night club, casino, lots of outlet shops and plenty of restaurants to keep this blog going for a while.
At first I’d always have fajitas. I wasn’t very adventurous back then. But it was always consistent, although on saying that sometimes dishes are spicier than a previous visit or has more peppers or whatever (hopefully this shows that the meals are cooked fresh and not just pre-packaged and heated up. The chefs can also be seen cooking). My daughter Helen has made me be a little more brave at trying new things. So I’ve tried a few dishes from the menu now such as The Extraordinary Xinxim which is lovely and creamy – I especially like the sweet plantains served with it – Bahia Moqueca a mild creamy curry, Enchiladas, beef burger … I could go on.
First we always order Totopos with our drinks before ordering our meal. Totopos are tortilla chips dusted with paprika with salsa and soured cream to share between two of us. This is our pre-starter.
For starter we used to love the Chunky Funghi Champiñones. This was a kind of thick soup with tons of large chunks of mushrooms. It had a little kick to it and was served with a flour tortilla to dip in. Las Iguanas change their menu now and again, keeping the favourites or sometimes adapting them a little to make them a bit different. This starter has gone but it has been replaced with Classic Champiñones which isn’t too far from the original but is now a little too hot sometimes. Last night’s dish was so hot our lips and mouths were burning and noses were running! Still tasty though and doesn’t stop us ordering it nor eating it!
Chicken fajitas are my favourite, served on a sizzling hot iron grid with peppers and onions. Along with this are four tortillas in a round container with a lid and small bowls of soured cream, salsa, sliced green jalapeño peppers and guacamole, cheese is extra.
I usually ask for extra soured cream instead of the guacamole. And if I’ve had a starter I try and keep hold of the salsa and soured cream if there’s any left. I also add some of their sauce – which has changed and not as nice as it used to be grrr – it doesn’t seem to have that ‘kick’ which the old sauce had.
When we first went to Las Iguanas all those years ago, they used to have a really delicious coconut bread pudding. I wish they’d bring that back! My favourite now is either the Berry Mexican Mess – similar to Eton Mess – with strawberry chunks, mascarpone, yogurt, crushed merigue and hibiscus syrup, which is always tasty but my very favourite on the present menu is the Affagoto Cubano – which I just love saying after my Italian friend told me how to say it with an accent (it’s got to be heard). This is a small cup of spiced rum espresso with a scoop of dulce de leche ice-cream floating on top and a lovely cinnamon sugar dusted churro, a little like a doughnut. Delicious!
My husband Geoff normally orders a bottle of San Miguel but last night he had the very last bottle in the restaurant, ever! Sadly they are not offering this any longer. Not sure what the replacement will be yet, it’s a ‘surprise’. The wine I enjoy at Las Iguanas is Faustino VII which is a lovely, fairly full bodied red. It’s available in the Co-op (and Asda so I believe) which is great as I can now enjoy it at home too.
Lots of the dishes can be adapted to make them a little different or have alternatives. For example the soup we have is also available with a ‘posh topping of truffle salsa, crumbly cheese & slices of roasted red pepper for 70p extra. The fajitas apart from chicken is also available with either steak, mushrooms or prawns. Some alternatives are a little extra in price, but not all. On the menu beside each dish it shows whether it’s suitable for vegetarians, gluten free, or if it contains nuts or alcohol.
If you arrive for lunch a lighter bite menu is available until 6.30pm. These are slightly smaller dishes I think than the main menu and of course, cheaper too, although not all dishes are on this menu. The à la carte menu is available all day. ‘Happy Hour’ is until 7.30pm with cocktails and coolers being buy one get another the same for free.
As I said previously, the staff are always very friendly. Some of the staff have been there for a number of years although we haven’t seen our favourite waitress for a while, I shan’t mention her name on here but it begins with the letter G. If you sign up to the Las Iguanas newsletter you will receive a voucher off your first meal and when it’s your birthday you will receive another voucher for a free main meal when another meal from the main menu is ordered. You sometimes get given a free cocktail too – I’ve also received a glass of sparkling wine plus a slice of Aztec Chocolate Fudge cake in the past.
Las Iguanas is a great place to eat out at with family, friends or loved ones. It’s the restaurant which we keep going back too every couple of months or so.
Living life, loving cake. Adios amigos
UPDATE: 26/06/2017 – We still visit Las Iguanas several times a year, mainly when it’s one of our birthdays and if we have a free main meal offer via email. I visited for my birthday last month and had the fajitas and did find that at the rather princely sum of £18 I probably wouldn’t order it again. I thought it a ridiculous price. The guacomole/salsa/sour cream and grated cheese now come in piddly little bowls and isn’t really enough for the four flour tortillas. My churros for dessert were extremely greasy and the dulce de leche sauce appeared to be watered down. On my previous visit they were divine. Let’s hope it’s not going downhill and it was an ‘off’ day for them. Also the Gunwharf Quays branch is looking slightly scruffy and could do with a refurb.