“ Address: Witan Gate / Milton Keynes / MK9 2HP / Buckinghamshire / England „
Las Iguanas is a restaurant chain that specialises in Latin American food and drink.
This review is of the branch in Milton Keynes, but I have also eaten at the branch in Bath where I enjoyed a similar dining experience.
The restaurant in Milton Keynes is located in The Hub area, which is a lovely courtyard that has a wide selection of places to eat, such as Zizzi's, Café Rouge, Starbucks, Loch Fyne and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, just to name a few. The Hub area is located behind the Ramada Encore and Jurys Inn hotels, which are close to The Centre shopping mall.
Quite often with restaurants that serve a specific cuisine there is the tendency to adorn the walls with too many stereotypical items from the region, for instance Mexican restaurants covered in tacky sombreros! Thankfully Las Iguanas restaurants don't suffer from this problem and the décor is quite plain and simple, so much so that you wouldn't automatically think you were in a Latin restaurant.
The atmosphere has always been brilliant as they play very funky Latin music, which never fails to get me swaying to the rhythm as I happily sip from a delicious cocktail. The cocktails, including the classic mojito and caipirinha, are a big draw for many people and there were just as many people just enjoying drinks as there were eating meals. Although it is quite a trendy environment mostly suited to young people, I don't think they monopolise the place and there were plenty of older people with their adult children enjoying themselves. Younger children are equally as welcome as they cater for them by providing smaller portions of the main courses on the menu.
The first time I ate at a Las Iguanas restaurant was at the branch in Bath when I was visiting friends who had eaten there before. One of the friends I was with had just returned from a 6 month tour of South America and she told me the food tasted very authentic. On that occasion I had the 21-day aged sirloin steak from Uruguay (£14.50), which was cooked to perfection (medium-rare) and it came with a fantastic sauce/marinade called chimichurri, which I have yet to successfully recreate at home.
I was very tempted to order the steak again, but a new dish on the menu caught my eye. It was the whole Seabass (£13.50), which was roasted with a caperberry, black olive & lemon salsa on a hot skillet. It was served
with little saffron potatoes and seasonal greens tossed in garlic and chilli butter on the side. The fish was cooked to perfection and the salsa was packed with so much exotic flavour that I could just about imagine I was eating this meal in a restaurant in South America. The potatoes were a little disappointing, as I couldn't taste any saffron at all, but the fish was so amazing I didn't mind.
My fiancé had the Puerto Rican Paella, which is available as a vegetarian option (£8.90), but he likes his meat so he had the one with chicken, smoked pork & garlic chorizo, squid, salmon, tiger prawn & mussels (£10.50). He really enjoyed the Paella, which was very tasty and didn't have too many shells and other bits to pick out! Surprisingly he struggled to finish the Paella, but we had shared 3 starters between us!
We had the Peri-Peri Pollo (£4.90), which was fresh chicken breast, coated in crispy crumbed cassava, with a fiery garlic, chilli and lemon sauce. The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside whilst staying moist inside and the sauce was definitely fiery!
We also had the Pato Taquito (£4.90), which was shredded roast duck rolled in a flour tortilla and char-grilled, with sticky chilli jam. This was equally delicious and definitely something I'd order again.
My fiancé wanted the Crayfish Cocktail from the special Lunch & Early Evening Set Menu (which is available until 7pm) and they let us order it even though it was after 7pm and just charged us a normal price, which I think was around £4. This wasn't anything spectacularly different from a classic prawn cocktail, with crunchy romaine lettuce, cucumber and crayfish and topped with smoked paprika mayo. However, it was very nice and the home baked bread that accompanied it was lovely. Our only real gripe was that it came in a tall plastic cocktail glass, which made it difficult to eat so we tipped it out onto a plate.
Even though we were pretty full, we rounded off the meal with a Toffee & Macadamia Nut Cheesecake (£4.50), which I liked apart from the macadamia nuts, which were just too bland and soft for my taste.
Overall the food was great and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals.
Staff and service
Our waiter was on top form and he made sure we were well looked after. He was attentive without being overbearing and the whole experience from sitting down to paying the bill and leaving was like a well-oiled machine. He left a comment card on the table with the bill and I actually completed it because I was so impressed with the service and the food.
The high standard of the food and service at Las Iguanas manages to debunk the bad reputation of chain restaurants.