I was lucky enough to visit two different restaurants that go against the grain when it comes to a franchise food eatery. I’m not often a fan of the chain restaurants that crowd every major city and would always tend to opt for the independent family run business. That being said I was more than impressed with our visits to the South American ‘Las Iguanas’ and Pan Asian ‘Wagamamas’.
I chose to visit the Bournemouth site of Las Iguanas which opened last year, and we opted for a late lunch so we could take our time and soak up the atmosphere. The manageress made herself known and was extremely welcoming along with all the other staff. Set in amongst the relatively new Odeon Cinema Complex in Bournemouth its surrounded by a wide variety of eateries and must compete for the foot traffic that descends on Bournemouth year round, with people visiting the famous coastline or buying tickets to the well-known BIC Theatre.
I like to really get a feel for a menu and would much rather order several different plates and share them than test just one to myself. We were totally spoilt for flavour and taste with Las Iguanas, we had everything from traditional Plantain to Chicken Quesodillas and Garlic Gambas (prawns) to their special Moqueca De Peixe – a seafood and white fish dish. I can’t fault the cooking; I was instantly transported to beach front spot in Chile eating my freshly caught fish.
A firm favourite for both my partner and I was by far their Cuban sandwich, I may not have tasted an original one before but they are doing something right. The pork belly & cooked meats, cheeses, mustard and sweet pickles are a taste sensation not to be missed.
Overall I can highly recommend visiting, perfect for parties or groups of friends with a fun, fresh atmosphere. Children are welcome too, I guess it depends how ‘fussy’ they are but why not educate their taste buds – you might just be pleasantly surprised!
We visited this Pan Asian delight in my city of Winchester, set in the old Jewish quarter the space in Century House has been used wisely and although large it has a somewhat intimacy about it. Have a private table or share a pew, again great for large groups or a small family gathering.
We took an early lunch and it was a welcome break from shopping in Winchester’s old town. Thirsty and in need of energy I ordered their ‘Power Juice’ – a freshly made juice booster that was packed with spinach, apple and ginger. As well as being delicious it was actually a really neat palette cleanser between the different dishes.
We didn’t hold back on ordering either, with our love for Asian cooking and empty stomachs we went to town on the menu ordering Phad Thai (of course), Chilli & Steak Ramen, Squid, Noodles, Katsu Curry and so much more. I also love the salted Edamame beans – they are a must!
My favourite was probably the Chilli Ramen, the broth which is made in advance was packed with flavour and the sirloin cooked to perfection. Sean was a big fan of the Chilli Squid and the steamed Pork Buns – another must!
The staff were immaculate and professional, they offered advice where needed but weren’t pushy. The chefs are on show in a large impressive show-kitchen so that you can watch while you eat. The price reflects the food, and I believe its good value for what you receive, again it’s totally worth taking children and getting them out of their comfort zone.
The two restaurants’ cuisines are ‘literally’ worlds apart and they both have so much to offer. Personally I love Las Iguanas for a fun Friday night with friends and Wagamamas for a sophisticated work lunch – that said they are both ideal for good food at honest prices. If you haven’t been, you must!