REVIEW: Brazilian food at Cabana goes for Gold – but lands a Bronze

cabana

The world has gone Brazil-mad. And with all of our eyes firmly fixated upon Rio and the 2016 Olympics, I decided to join in. No. I haven’t started diving off terrifyingly high boards like our Tom Daley, nor have I gone into the garage and dusted off my old chopper (steady) for a race along the riverside. I decided to take part in the South American fiesta the best way I know – eating.

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Cabana, one of the newest restaurants in Newcastle, opened in the spring of this year near the city’s Gate complex. It is situated in the old Co-Op building and, along with Caribbean neighbour Turtle Bay, is part of a host of exciting worldly restaurants aiming to please.

David Ponte, who is the co-owner of the eatery along with Jamie Barber, was raised in Rio and has previously likened the city’s Christ the Redeemer statue to our very own Angel of the North.

An interesting comparison, for sure! Ponte’s passion for Brazilian food shines through in impressive surroundings and on a menu that, honestly, looked good enough to eat. And I was thanking Christ (the Redeemer) I got to.

Along with a group of friends, one who recently having had a baby was ready for a great time, tasty food and even better cocktails, I decided on Cabana as a good choice for NE1’s Restaurant Week, which runs until this Sunday August 14, and every year takes the region by storm with its great offers on food and drink. Cabana in particular is offering three courses for £15.

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The spicy chicken wings came marinated in a delicious and fiery Malagueta sauce, and were served up in a bucket. Succulently cooked and with just the right amount of spice for someone who sometimes gets the sweats from a medium Nandos. But chain food this is not – the wings, along with the cheesy baked dough balls with garlic butter had us all wanting more.

Unfortunately, that’s where things took a bit of a nosedive. With the majority of us plumping for the Picanha burger with chimichurri sauce, beans and fries, we were collectively let down by the main, the burger itself dry and non-descript. However, one of us did go for the spicy Malagueta chicken skewer, which impressed.

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Dessert was toffee frozen yoghurt with peanut brittle, which I have to say, was a delight. The chocolate cake got thumbs down from some of the diners but I thought, especially being flourless, it was a fine attempt.

Although the food didn’t set my taste buds alight, Cabana is definitely a place to return for drinks. Opting, of course, for the native favourite, Caiparinha, as well as Carlos The Godfather, a sugary, gin-based drink, the place felt less like Newgate Street and more (and more and more…cocktails were 2-4-1) like the Copacabana. Let’s just say by the time we left, there were A LOT of showgirls names Lola. They also do a beautiful Malbec, for the red wine lovers.

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Unlike the athletes currently taking Rio by storm, this place is not exceptional. It isn’t bad, though – it just has a lot of great competition. If I was scoring, Cabana would on the podium, clutching bronze.

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