One thing you could never accuse Cabana of being is boring. Tucked away next to the ever-bustling hub of Trinity Kitchen in Leeds, its bright and multi-coloured front beckons in passers-by with the lure of authentic Brazilian barbecue, street food and tasty drinks. Founders Jamie and David set up Cabana back in 2011 with the aim of bringing a bit of the eccentric, communal dining nature which Brazil cherishes so much to the UK, in relaxed surroundings. The chain now has restaurants in ten locations across the UK, from South London all the way up to a soon to open store in Newcastle upon Tyne.
We visited on a fairly busy Thursday evening and were immediately seated by enthusiastic staff, who remained very helpful and knowledgeable all evening. The interior of the restaurant has a high focus on recycled and ‘upcycled’ elements, giving it a fun and interesting look. The unique hanging light covers are handmade from old copper pipes, seats are upholstered with pre-loved denim jeans all the way from Sao Paulo (complete with pockets!), and the seating centrepiece in the middle of the establishment is an authentic Cabana hut, rebuilt lovingly to provide a large and airy space for groups.
The menu is fairly diverse and has many elements of traditional Brazilian tastes. We enjoyed ‘Pão de queijo’ – or cheesy dough balls with garlic butter, to you and me – and chargrilled pitta bread with a firey chimichurri dip to start off with. The dough balls in particular are incredibly moreish, especially when paired with the chilli oil provided on each table.
There are a nice range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free starters, with staff more than happy to talk us through the options when asked. All chicken used throughout the menu is halal, as well as the lamb dishes, the rib-eye steak, and all of the desserts on offer, providing a wide range of options for all diets.
Cabana has a very extensive drinks menu, specialising in Caipirinha cocktails – a tantalising mix of sugarcane rum, lime, sugar and fruit juices. They also provide a great selection of ‘Refrescos’, non-alcoholic mixed drinks with proper Brazilian tastes. Faced with an overwhelming amount of choice, we went for the Amazon Iced Tea (Homemade tea, mint, wild leaf cordial and apple juice) and Super-Suco Smoothie (Amazonian açai with banana and strawberry), which were both perfect accompaniments to our meals, and very generous sizes!
Onto the mains, and both my dining companion and I decided we couldn’t very well visit a Brazilian BBQ without trying some proper chargrilled meat! Skewer dishes are cooked delivered straight to the table on their large cooking spikes, ensuring hot meat fresh off the grill every time. The Spicy Malagueta Chicken [pictured above] is a best seller, consisting of grilled chicken thighs and red pepper coated thoroughly in Cabana’s own marinade, a sticky, sweet tomato based sauce with hints of spice throughout. The biro-biro rice and crispy sweet potato fries are perfect accompaniments, rounding off a satisfying main course. We also opted for the amusingly named ‘Chilli Chilli Lamb Lamb’, a chilli and cumin flavoured skewer cooked alongside deliciously soft Palm Hearts. With more of a kick to it than the chicken, the lamb is thoroughly tender, spicy and enjoyable, although perhaps a little smaller portioned than one might expect for the price.
Other main course options include burgers, steaks, ribs, salads and stews, ensuring that there is something for everyone here. Vegetarian and vegan mains are a little thin on the ground, however what is offered has clearly been well thought out, with uniquely cooked vegan stews, halloumi burgers and palm heart super-salads all up for grabs.
Dessert is certainly not a half-hearted afterthought for Cabana, who approach it with the same vibrancy and sense of fun as everything else they do. Frozen yoghurt is the main star here, with peanut butter and caramel flavours on offer in Leeds. These both come with unlimited free toppings, which you may as well indulge in, as the yoghurt itself is 100% fat free.
We treated ourselves to a Caramel Flake Sundae made with this tasty yoghurt, and a ‘Nega Maluca’, a type of flourless chocolate cake which was dark, dense and delicious. It may be a small portion, but believe me when I say that it’s more than enough to satisfy!
Overall, Cabana has a relaxed and yet vibrant atmosphere perfect for groups, families and casual evenings out with friends. Its central location, friendly staff and wide-reaching menu really hit the spot for a bit of a different dining experience in central Leeds.
WIN: A Meal for Four at Cabana Leeds
We’re giving one lucky reader the chance to win a fantastic evening out at Cabana in Leeds with a meal for four people. Simply answer the question below before midnight on the 22nd April, and you could be in with a chance of winning!
Which continent is the country of Brazil located on?
a) North America
b) South America
Send your answer to email@example.com or post to Asian Style Magazine, 18 East Parade, Bradford, BD1 5EE. Don’t forget to include your full name, contact details and address. Entry closes at 22nd April at midnight.
Winner will be selected randomly from all entries which adhere to the above guidelines. Winner must be able to attend meal at Cabana’s Leeds location. Standard Asian Style Magazine terms and conditions apply.