Cabana, Westfield Stratford City

In September Westfield Stratford City, the largest urban shopping centre in Europe, opened with the promise of plenty of eateries.

The usual chains like Jamie’s Italian, Tossed, Yo! Sushi, Pizza Express, Pret a Manger, Giraffe, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, were to be expected. For the truly unadventurous shoppers there are Greggs , McDonalds, Nando’s, KFC and Subway.

With just one other branch in Covent Garden, Cabana caught my eye and soon I organised a food blogger get together to celebrate the end of the year and Christmas.

If you were hoping for a quiet meal in a peaceful setting, you ain’t gonna get it here. The venue has an energetic feel to it with bright, loud coloured posters pasted on the wall, naked pipework and a high ceiling which contributed to the noise factor.

Overall the street food-style starters were mediocre at best. The Brasilian Cheesy Dough Balls (£3.95) that came with a Marie Rose-like sauce were not as fluffy or cheesy as expected. We sent out a search party for the four cheeses that were supposed to be in the Crispy Pastels (£4.65) but came back empty-handed. My Chopped Salmon Ceviche (£4.75) lacked the lime and chili kick and tasted suspiciously fishy.

Funnily enough, the ugliest starter, Sweetcorn Pamonhas (£3.35) received the taste prize. It is grated sweetcorn steamed in coconut milk with a hint of cinnamon, served wrapped in a corn husk and you can add chili salt to your liking. Some said it was too sweet, but it suited me just fine.

Cocktail-wise the Bacana Berry (£2.95) outshone the icy, lacklustre Cool Colada (£2.95). All cocktails can be spiked up with Cachaça (£1.95).

The Skewers, i.e. main courses, are served “rodizio”-style. Unlike in Brazil where you can eat as much as you like for a fixed fee, skewers are colour-coded according to price – green (£3.35), blue (£4.50), yellow (£5.45) and orange (£5.95) – think Yo! Sushi.

The ceremony of meat began when a green disc, which is red at the back, was placed on our table signalling to the waiters to start bringing us the mostly meaty skewers. Traditionally chicken hearts are served but maybe London clientele would be too squeamish for it.

The sweet Honey & Date Chicken was a bit dry but the Chili and Cumin Lamb perfect. The sheer portion size of the excellent Butterflied Pork Tenderloin with a Parmesan Crust and satisfying Portobello Mushroom topped with Haloumi Cheese left everyone in awe. Pregnant ladies who are past their due date should try the Spicy Malagueta Tiger Prawns which is hot enough to induce labour. Six quid for three measly prawns are ridiculous though.

Best of the lot was the Sticky Baby Ribs which was falling off the bone and slathered with a drool worthy sauce.

Cassava Chips (£3.45) is a rare sight on British menus and we definitely had to order it. A bit dry, almost chestnut-like, on its own, it matched very well with the delightful chimichurri dip provided and the Sweet Potato Fries (£3.45) were just as good as Giraffe Bar & Grill’s. No one was impressed with the canned palm hearts in the Tomato Salad (£3.65).

On paper the Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad (£6.95) sounded promising and its presentation was stunning in the big white bowl. However, on closer inspection there was a miniscule amount of avocado and the first bite revealed that the chef has gone overboard with the salt. A disappointment.

Unlike many restaurants, Cabana came up with a great plan for dessert – just have a very limited amount of menu items and execute them very well. All frozen yogurts (£3.95) – natural, peanut butter and caramel – were delightful and the toppings (45p each) made them even better. By fate, since Caramelised Cashews weren’t available, I discovered the best topping of all – Pacoquinha (Brasilian Peanut Candy). The Cabana Cheesecake (£4.95) wasn’t too shabby either.

Wondering what my fellow diners thought of the meal? Check out what they said:

Quick Overview
Food

6/10: The meal had its ups and downs.

Value

8/10: Portions were huge except for the prawns.

Service

6/10: Friendly and attentive but we were forgotten after dessert and after 10 minutes of waving, attempting to get the staff’s attention we succeeded.

Toilets

7/10: Brazilian rustic with a lot of character.

Ambience

7/10: Vibrantly busy with fun in the air.

Recommend

6/10: The desserts alone are good enough an excuse to visit Cabana. If I went back I’d definitely go for the ribs and sweet potato fries again and end with the caramel frozen yogurt with Pacoquinha topping. Trust me. Just try it.

P.S. I was a guest of Cabana.

Cabana Westfield Stratford City
5 Chestnut Plaza
Montfitchet Way
Westfield Stratford City
London
E20 1GL

Website

Cabana on Urbanspoon

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Comments

  1. says

    I went to the one by Tottenham Court Road (not really as near Covent Garden, as they bill it) a few weeks back.
    Like you, I liked the decor and buzz and some of the food was great but other items not very good and some very poor value, was shocked by those same three prawns for £6!
    For rodizio I’d rather go for the fixed price options like Rodizio Rico or the other chain in town, I forget name, my cousin went, I’ll have to check.

  2. says

    Yup, what she said ;) It was a fun afternoon and some of the food was delish! Great shots, as always – I am amazed at how well that shirt of mine photographs! Going to have to use it as a prop one of these days ;)

  3. says

    Would you believe I went back yesterday?! That fro yo had been calling my name ever since.

    Sadly I’m left with a less favourable experience than after my first visit.

    A couple of points I’m going to update in my post – the crispy pastels are now being served in pairs rather than 3 but are suitably stuffed with cheese. So that’s an improvement on before.

    However secondly, in this cold weather you get a hideous draft every time the door opens. There is no porch. We were freezing. Some of the vents were pumping down warm air but the one above our table wasn’t. (We were sat next table to previous visit on denim banquette seats).

    Thirdly our waitress was very friendly but inattentive at times. Unforgivably, she left our table in the middle of taking dessert orders. She was clearing plates and asked us about dessert. I said “would it be easier if you came back in a moment to take our dessert order?” as there were five of us to remember and she didn’t have her hands free to use the electronic pad. She said not to worry and then proceeded to take orders for 3 of us and then scuttled off in mid order before we could say what Nick and Ted wanted! We then tried in vain to get the attention of a member of staff for over five minutes and ended up placing the rest of the order when she finally came back. I was not pleased.

    Finally, when you take a kid with you you realise how expensive it is without a childrens’ menu. Ted loved the chicken sausage wheel but cost as much for him as for us – his dessert and drink cost about £7 on their own which would be price of whole meal in most other places with kids’ menus. Wahaca next door doesn’t have a kids’ menu either but I think overall it’s much better value. Given a choice between the two I’d probably pick Wahaca.

  4. says

    In a way it is the perfect place for a party of 5+ and it was fun. But there is much room for improvement if they want to last in this difficult context. Looking forward to seeing you in the new-year.

  5. says

    Love the images and review Michelle (!) I really need to get lens like yours but I would probably need your eyes as well ;) Thanx for organizing all this and see you next year…

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