Do you ever pass a place in your area a lot, but never go in - then go there one day and wonder why the heck you never went there before? That's what happened to me with Cabana in Islington, a Brazilian chain restaurant that I'm pretty sure I was put off by it being Brazilian. Call me ignorant, but as a vegetarian I tend to think that latin American places are going to be meat-central. When Cabana invited me to try their bottomless brunch I was hesitant, but a friend of mine who's lived out there assured me that in Brazil it's weird to eat meat for breakfast, and when I looked at the menu and saw a host of vegetarian dishes looking absolutely delicious, I couldn't get there fast enough.
Cabana is a riot of colour and hands down one of the friendliest places I've eaten at, not just in Islington, but in London. There's samba music playing, and an emphasis on barbecue and fiery flavours - they sell their own speciality sauces (below).
Our waitress suggested she bring us a few items from the brunch menu to share, that way we could try several of their traditional delights. The bottomless brunch isn't a set price, you pay for items separately, but for an additional £14.95 you can have unlimited refills of either prosecco bellini or bloody mary. I let myself and every prosecco fan down by not ordering the bellini, I wasn't feeling it early on a Sunday (they open at 11am and were very nice and quiet for the first hour, perfect for early-ish Sunday risers), so I had a couple of their fruit drinks. My friend went for the bloody mary and declared it to be great.
I ordered iced tea (above), but it wasn't a traditional one - it's incredibly sweet, mostly apple juice with some refreshing mint. I'd only get this if you have a very sweet tooth. My fave was The Chiller (below), a frothy mix of banana, cucumber, and elderflower.
Feast your eyes on some of the dishes we tried, all of them so, SO good. Sweet potato hash with feta cheese and poached egg, served in a frying pan, avocado on sourdough toast (also with poached egg), cheesy dough balls dipped in melted butter, and absolutely lovely ice-cold acai smoothie served in a bowl with oats and strawberries.
For dessert you can have Cabana's speciality frozen yoghurt with mix and match toppings, or there's a couple of sweet treats on the brunch menu. Our waitress told us we'd have to try the Pastel de Nata (below), the most traditional of Brazilian pastries - a vanilla custard with cinnamon, encased in utterly divine warm pastry. We also had the Rabanadas, french toast that's a Brazilian Christmas Day tradition - sourdough bread dipped in condensed milk and pan friend with cinnamon, vanilla sugar and chocolate. Served with greek yoghurt and berries, this was a brunch highlight for sure. Just to make sure, we tried some Nutella mini doughnuts from the main menu, but ended up having to take them away as we were so darn full. They are really good though, as you might imagine warm Nutella-filled balls to be.
I loved the booth seats upholstered in old denim jeans, the staff full of beans on a Sunday morning, and a menu that's extremely vegetarian friendly (there's a burger and fries if it's been a bit meatless for you so far). It's not often at all that as a veggie I'm spoilt for choice and not just an afterthought facing one option on a menu - it's exciting! The main menu looks amazing too, and I definitely want to come back and eat lunch or dinner there. The bottomless brunch is being served in Cabana's Islington and Brixton branches from 11am-4pm, and it's being called the #BasicBrunch, I don't know why - this brunch is anything but basic, and it's one of my new London faves.