A safe, not exciting Brazilian experience
Cabana, Islington Review
“Cabana is Brasilian barbecue at its best, succulent skewers cooked over our open fire pit accompanied by street foods and sides all seasoned to perfection. Vibrant settings that showcase the things we love about modern Brasil. And an atmosphere designed to capture that refreshing Brasilian spirit ‘tudo bem’, meaning, everything’s good.”
My friend Stu and I met at Highbury Corner and wandered down Upper Street looking for somewhere for lunch neither of us had been before. Somehow we made it to within 100m of Angel station where we saw Cabana. In fairness it’s quite hard to miss with it’s vibrant multicolour exterior. It’s a small chain with 5 branches, all in London and it felt a bit chainy but had several cool design features including recycled jeans covering the banquettes.
It was lunch and we both had stuff to do afterwards so ordered a couple of softies to drink. Stu had a Bacana Berry, fresh berries muddled with vanilla sugar, pink grapefruit juice and sparkling water (£3.25) and I had an Amazon Ice Tea, tea, mint, wild leaf cordial and apple juice (£2.95). Both were nice and refreshing. If you come in the evening (or like getting hammered at lunch time) there’s a choice of 9 Cachacas on the menu at £3.95 each or any three for £9.95 along with 6 types of Caipirinha and several other Cachaca based cocktails, most of which are under £7.
We skipped starters and went straight in for a main course. Stu was going through a veggie phase so decided on the Portobello Beirut, toasted Syrian flatbread filled with portobello mushroom, tomato, lettuce, chilli mayo and melted cheese (£7.95) and some Sweet Potato Fries (£3.95). The flatbread was a decent size but wasn’t particularly inventive, the presentation could do with some work as you can see below!
I had the “best-selling” Cabana Spicy Malagueta Chicken – a whole skewer of British chicken marinated in Malagueta sauce (£7.95) with a bowl of Biro-Biro Rice, fried with garlic, herbs spring onions and shallots (£2.95) on the side. The chicken well cooked with a nice BBQ flavour from the charcoal grill but the rice was quite bland and unmemorable. The skewer was a bit on the small side as well – I’d probably recommend getting a couple unless you’re having a few sides.
I was expecting some Brazilian excitement and magic to come through but the food all felt a bit safe and underwhelming at Cabana. Given the amount of restaurant competition around this area I think the only reason I’d come back is to make my way through the Cachaca menu.
56 Upper Street,
London N1 0NY