Time for Las Iguanas

I have been tempted many times by Las Iguanas, but have never actually got there until recently when I was in Birmingham.

Looking for a place to eat the choice available was a decision maker for the group of friends I was with. Las Iguanas as they have a large menu covering Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, and beyond.

The place was really busy, but despite not booking they found us a table.

I looked over the extensive menu and thought about what I wanted.  For my starter I went with the Calamares, crispy squid served with creamy aioli.

The squid was certainly crispy, overcooked in my opinion, but this was more than just squid rings, this was squid in batter with a rather garlicky aioli.

For my main course I went with the Xinxim. A classic recipe from North Brazil. Chicken and crayfish in our creamy lime and peanut sauce. Served with spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain.

This arrived in two dishes, the spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain on one plate, and a bowl with the Xinxim. 

Here is the plate with the rice and the plantain.

At first I didn’t think there was any crayfish in the dish, but it was hidden at the bottom. I added the bowl of Xinxim to the plate of rice. I did quite like creamy lime and peanut sauce and there was plenty of chicken. I would like to have seen more and bigger crayfish in the dish.

The rice didn’t seem to have much spring onion in it and the shredded greens were okay. I have to say I didn’t really like the sweet plantain, but having never had it before I couldn’t tell if this was representative of plantain or not. Something I might try again when I next visit the Caribbean Wrap in Bristol.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I think this was more down I had quite high expectations about the food, and it was just okay. I don’t think I will be going out of my way to visit Las Iguanas anytime soon.

No time for waiting

I was staying in Birmingham and was looking for somewhere for lunch. My original plan was to go to Pierre Bistrot, as I did quite fancy some French food.

I went in, there was the usual “please wait to be seated” sign. So I waited, then I waited a little more. Finally someone saw I was waiting and I asked for a table.

I sat down and looked at the menu. Then I waited, I waited and I waited.

I knew I had a meeting in my diary in less than an hour, but looking around seeing other people waiting for food and others waiting to order. I realised that there was no way I was going to order, get my food, eat the food, and pay my bill in the hour I had for lunch. So instead of waiting, I left my table and exited the restaurant, which was a pity as I did like the idea of eating French.

Still knowing I needed lunch (and that I was going to eat late that day) I headed off to Wagamama at Brindley Place.

Much better service. 

I went upstairs and there was no queue and I was quickly shown to a table I looked over the menu and chose to have some chilli squid, which I hadn’t had for a while and yasai yaki soba, which I had had more recently.

I didn’t have to wait too long before the food arrived. The yasai yaki soba arrived first and looked like the dish I had before and on the menu.

This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Though I enjoyed the dish, I don’t think it was as good as the last I had it, which surprised me a little.

The chilli squid arrived and I liked the look of the dish.

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

I was though disappointed with my squid. I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in hard crunchy batter. I think it could have been so much better. I think I should have had the bao buns instead, maybe next time.

I used the QR code process to pay the bill, so I didn’t need to wait for that, and left feeling I had a nice lunch.

Faculty – Artisan Coffee

Faculty

Visiting Birmingham recently I took the opportunity to visit Faculty, an artisan coffee and tea shop in the heart of Birmingham. This is in the Piccadilly Arcade close to New Street Station. A typical hipster coffee place, with a mix of wooden furniture and bare floors.

I went with the espresso, which really tests the skills of the barista and the quality of the coffee.

espresso

Service was excellent, once they knew I was drinking in, they asked me to take a seat and they would bring me the coffee. I really do like that, allows you to get on with stuff at a table, rather than just standing around waiting whilst they make your coffee. You usually get this in the chains, so I always appreciate it when you visit an independent coffee place.

The coffee was, well the best way to describe it for me, it was different. There was a flavour to the coffee that I found not really to my taste. It was smooth and had an excellent crema.

I did like the environment and the food menu looked really interesting, I might go again, maybe go with a different kind of coffee.