REVIEW | Cabana, Southampton

The new Westquay restaurant selection in Southampton means that you can pretty much travel the world with your taste buds in one evening. Or even, one week – as I found out last week when I managed five different cuisines in five consecutive nights!

The first of my foodie adventures started on Tuesday night when I found myself exploring the flavours of Brazil with Cabana, alongside some of my fellow Southampton bloggers, Amy Harwood, Grace from Beauty Brown Blog, Rebecca from Bright Lights Big City, Anna from Bright Eye Blog  and Fiona from The Traffic Jam of Life, as well as Ellisha-Jade from The Southampton Girl.

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We were welcomed in with a delicious passionfruit caipirinha  each and some delicious sweet potato hummus and guacamole, and began mingling. I met David Ponte, one of the co-founders of Cabana and had a lovely chat with him while the rest of the bloggers arrived.

My caipirinha quickly vanished – but to my delight we were ushered to the bar for the chance to make our very own! Our brilliant bar tenders showed us the basics before proclaiming we were to make our own in a bid to win a prize!

Caipirinhas are surprisingly easy to make once you get the hang of it – of course, having never made one before I kept forgetting the steps while watching my fellow bloggers shaking their thing behind the bar. Before getting started, we were encouraged to enjoy a shot of Cachaça, Brazil’s favourite spirit made from sugarcane juice – a little like rum. It was strong…but delicious!

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I let a few of the other girls go first, but it was finally  my turn to have a go at making my own caipirinha. I tentatively took myself through the steps with encouragement from the girls and our bar tenders:

  • Add eight quarters of lime and three spoons of sugar to the glass.
  • Crush together so that the sugar dissolves into the lime juice.
  • Add one shot (and a little dash for good measure!) of Cachaça and enough ice to fill the glass
  • Shake shake shake!
  • Pour back into your glass and garnish with lime.

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I was delighted to win the prize for the best drink – a shock, since I don’t think I’ve ever made a cocktail in my life! I’ll be buying some Cachaça soon to make my own at home.

After our cocktail masterclass, we headed back to our table to enjoy a Brazilian feast. I’ve never really eaten Brazilian food before – I’m extremely well acquainted with Mexican, but this was a new experience for me!

And boy, what a spread we had.

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To start, we enjoyed salt cod fritters, halloumi and guava dip, cheesy dough balls and chicken croquetas, as well as. These were all amazing. The salt cod fritters out-shone all others I had ever eaten and were one of my favourite foods of the whole night. The halloumi and guava jam sounds absurd but tastes incredible – the sweetness working so well with the salty cheese. A legendary pair – as the nickname of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ suggests! The chicken croquetas were also divine. I could easily have just sat and eaten these dishes nonstop throughout the evening!

Then, the mains.

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Cabana steak, Malagueta chicken and the pièce de résistance, the brand new Carnival Coconut Chicken, served on a fresh rice-filled pineapple. All paired with sweet potato fries, cassava fries and Biro Biro rice (fried with herbs, onions and shallots).

I will admit now, I am not a big meat-eater – but the meat served that night was utterly irresistible. Well cooked, tender, succulent and very, very moreish. I really loved the steak and am sure that’s what I’ll be ordering when I return!

 

We chatted to David more about his adventures in creating Cabana – the decor in the room was all taken from Brazil. Lampshades made from sun hats made especially for the restaurant; original Brazilian telephone booths; posters and street lights. David and his team’s dedication to bringing Brazil to the UK was incredibly obvious and he was passionate about the food too – and I think this enthusiasm has rubbed off on the entire Cabana team! The service was friendly and the atmosphere was brilliant – vibrant and exciting.

We barely had enough room for dessert – but there is a medically proven second stomach for a sweet course, right?

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We were served with their chocolate raindrop doughnuts – little piping-hot doughnuts filled with Nutella. The most delicious little bites of heaven – not too big, and just the right size for a sweet treat after a big, delicious Brazilian meal.

After we had devoured our feast, we were left to catch up, meet each other properly and recount out night. We were even gifted with an amazing goodie bag – which was completely unexpected and contained a bottle of Cabana’s beloved Malagueta sauce and chilli oil, as well as a Brazilian cookbook. I am already planning a Brazilian BBQ this summer, dreaming of eating my own homemade Malagueta chicken in the sunshine.

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I had an amazing time at Cabana and felt very lucky to have been invited along. I’m already planning my next visit and will be dragging my sister and her OH along when they visit me next weekend. I’ll be ordering those cod fritters once again!

Fancy seeing a little more of our evening? Check out Amy’s little vlog of the night! You’ll get to see me cack-handedly scooping hummus and taking a shot of Cachaça like a pro, amongst other things!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m off to get some more fritters and caipirinhas.

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