Hold the Meat!
As I was meeting a friend for dinner at the behemothic Westfield London shopping mall in White City earlier this week, I googled ‘vegan westfield london’ beforehand and a Brazilian restaurant called Cabana Brasilian Barbecue popped up as the third result. Intrigued, I clicked through to their website to discover that despite their name, this national chain clearly mark vegan options on their menus. So with some reservations about going anywhere with the word ‘barbecue’ in the name, I decided to give it a try.
I would firstly say that if you’re squeamish about seeing chunks of barbecued animal flesh then don’t go here. The open kitchen is clearly visible from all parts of the restaurant and there is obviously a sense of reverence towards barbecued meat as it is ceremoniously brought to diners’ tables on two-foot-long skewers. Vile!
The server was friendly and knew immediately about vegan options. She explained the symbol system on the menu and added that the guacamole and corn chips dish was vegan even though it wasn’t marked as such on the menu. We were hungry so got to ordering within minutes and the food came out quickly. The guacamole was ok. Not the worst I’ve had but definitely lacking in flavour. Fortunately there was a bottle of hot sauce on the table to remedy that.
The mains came soon afterwards and were simple but tasty. I had the Vegoada – a vegan version of Feijoada, essentially a black bean stew with plantains, aubergine and red peppers. It was tasty enough, as was the Biro-Biro rice that accompanied it, but I feel a bit spoiled after having eaten Vanessa Almeida’s (aka Essential Vegan) feijoada last year, which was far superior, with more complex flavours.
For me, the standout dish at Cabana was the Cassava Chips. I love this root vegetable and wish it was more widely served in the UK. Deep fried cassava is the stuff dreams are made of. More of that please!
I applaud any restaurant that is willing to label which dishes are suitable for vegans – especially when it has multiple locations throughout the UK. It’s great to know that if you’re stuck for somewhere to eat, you don’t have to defer to pitta bread and humous from Tesco Metro.
However, the presence of meat (it is a barbecue restaurant after all) is hard to take and it’s mainly for this reason that I probably won’t head back to Cabana anytime soon. Then again, those cassava chips were so damn tasty!
See the Cabana menu online here.