Cabana is to Brazilian food what Wahaca is to Mexican. The Covent Garden restaurant may look like it belongs in a shopping centre, but it’s been painstakingly decorated so that it *sort of* conjures up images of Rio – if you squeeze your eyes really shut and drink a fair bit of that Caçaha stuff. But don’t let that put you off – it’s a gluten free treasure. It does GLUTEN FREE DOUGH BALLS!!
There’s plank flooring, poster-lined walls and banquettes upholstered with recycled jeans which apparently come from São Paulo favelas… (that’s slum to you and me). It’s a fun, relaxed place perfect for families or groups of friends.
The menu is also incredibly allergy-friendly. Gluten free dishes are clearly marked on the menu, and Cabana even serves up gluten free dough balls with cheese and garlic butter ‘pao de queijo’, and gluten free pulled pork sliders – music to many a gluten free ear, I’m sure.
The Guaca-Molho (£3.95) did not live up to expectations – too much lime, but the national snack of Brazil, Pao de Queijo (£3.95), was wonderful bite size pieces of cheesy, buttery goodness. There are no calories in Cabana.
Main courses centre around the Brazilian BBQ in the middle of the restaurant; colour-coded skewers are loaded with everything from marinated chicken thighs or chimichurri rump steak to giant portobello mushrooms with haloumi.
The Chicken Super Salad is served with a skewer of Spicy Malagueta Chicken (£10.95), and can be made even spicier should you wish because there’s a massive bottle of the stuff in the middle of the table. If you do you’re brave indeed.
The Pulled Pork Sloppy José was also on the fiery side, thanks to another generous helping of Malagueta Sauce. We thought the portion a bit mean, but it tasted great.
There is, of course, a veritable mountain of Caçaha cocktails to choose from at Cabana too. Red Tail Parrot was a strange mixture of muddled fruit purees and Prosecco which only really succeeded in tasting of sugar… like drinking the alcohol-soaked souls of a thousand gummy bears.
The Classic Caipirinha (Brazil’s national drink) was much better (as it should have been!) This one’s made with muddled lime, sugar and the sugar cane based liquor that is Caçaha. Tastes sort of like a Mojito really, but more powerful. The Passion Fruit Caipirinha was great, too.
The Verdict: Really good value, nice relaxed setting. Order the addictive Pao de Queijo and a Caipirinha or two.
Gluten Free: Gluten free dishes are all clearly marked on the menu and include things you’d never expect! Look out for this symbol here… no idea what it’s meant to be.