Las Iguanas takes being in the Royal Festival Hall seriously
Situated within the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, Las Iguanas is built to look much older than it really is. The vaulted brick and stone ceiling supports a massive glass chandelier that looks far more like a strange form of undersea life than a light fixture. The atmosphere is pleasant and lively without being overbearing; there are many tables to choose from which will provide a calm place for conversation.
Las Iguanas' cuisine is not strictly Mexican but instead provides a sampling of Latin and South America's best. To start off, try the peri-peri, a Brazilian dish made with chicken coated in a spicy garlic-and-chilli sauce. Peri-peri, the Portuguese name for the South African bird's-eye pepper, is a very nice way to begin the meal, though for about UKP5, they're a little pricey for not too much food.
Between the appetiser and the main course, try some of the lengthy drink list. In addition to several high-quality tequilas and mescals, there are also a number of Latin American beers. Besides obvious choices like Brahma and Corona there is also Cusquena, a tasty lager brought all the way from Peru. The mojitos aren't too bad either, though they can be a bit on the sweet side.
As far as the main course goes, the fajitas are a strong contender. Served with lots of accoutrements and nicely tender, they are a solid choice. However, if you're looking for the sort of happiness that can only be found in either a triple-digit bar tab or in a steak, look no farther than the Argentinean rib-eye steak. Available with either a Chilean Merlot jus or chimichurri sauce (a traditional sauce made from parsley, oregano, garlic and onion). Be brave and get it rare, for the cooks at Las Iguanas know what they're doing. Rare is understood to mean rare, as opposed to raw, and the steak is tender enough to fall apart under a fork. It's one of the juiciest, best-prepared steaks you'll ever have and is well worth the UKP13 price tag.
Finish everything up with a little aperitif, another Cusquena, or perhaps the Pave, a Brazilian concoction that tastes like tiramisu's more adventurous cousin. Once you've finished with the meal, just sit back and savour the evening as it flows by like the Thames beyond the windows. An average meal for two at Las Iguanas will cost about UKP50-70.
- Nicholas Carter