The OH and I were meeting some friends for dinner and we decided to go to South American street food restaurant, Las Iguanas, on George Street. I’m not against chain restaurants, especially when you’re travelling and you’re not sure what vegan options are available, familiar dishes can make ordering a whole lot easier.
We hadn’t seen our friends in a while and we were expecting some exciting news from the happily married couple, so we were eager to hear their good news over some equally good food. It all started off well when we arrived, the restaurant space was modern with bare wooden panels gracing the walls and brightly coloured lighting and potted plants dotted around the dining area. The member of staff that met us at the door was also very friendly and asked if anyone had any dietary requirements and when I mentioned I was vegan, he immediately grabbed a vegetarian/vegan menu for me.
At first I was quite excited to see that there were so many veggie options on the menu, but some of the menu options baffled me. There were sweet potato fries and regular fries you could order as side dishes, but they weren’t marked as vegan. I couldn’t understand what could be in it that wouldn’t be vegan. After all, you’re only frying strips of potato. I asked the member of waiting staff who was serving out table who consulted his tablet and said it wasn’t suitable for vegans but couldn’t tell me why. I love a good portion of fries, especially sweet potato fries, so I was disappointed.
I later asked a friend who mentioned when she went, the fries weren’t marked vegan because they’re fried in the same vat as non-vegan dishes. To be honest, it’s a personal preference as some vegans believe if it’s fried in the same oil as non-vegan dishes, it’s not vegan, but I don’t expect non-vegan restaurants to have a completely separate vat of oil for vegan dishes as usually this is not cost effective for restaurants that aren’t fully vegan.
I ordered a salad starter and fajitas for my main course and they were both lovely dishes. I even got to order my favourite soft drink, Guarana, which I haven’t had in ages. Although you can order it online from Tesco, it’s not so easy to find in shops.
Fiesta esalada: Roasted butternut squash, mixed leaves, carrot, cucumber, pink pickled onions, oven-dried tomatoes & fresh avocado, tossed in a poppy seed dressing, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, charred corn & roquito peppers
The salad was lovely and colourful and they do encourage you, when you’re vegan, to eat the colours of the rainbow! The contrast between the cooked vegetables and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds was lovely. I also enjoyed the combination of the tangy pink pickled onions and oven-dried tomatoes with the creamy texture of avocado and sweet flavour of the roasted butternut squash, peppers, carrots and cucumber. I’m normally not one for choosing dishes that adhered to the stereotype of vegans eating rabbit food, but I think this is one salad that might entice even non-vegans to give it a go. It’s jam-packed full of flavour with a wonderful combination of different textures.
Portobello mushroom fajitas: freshly-cooked to order in our special mix of spices, onions & peppers, dished up sizzling, with guacamole, jalapeños, roasted tomato salsa & soft wheat tortillas (vegan without the grated cheese and soured cream)
I did like the sound of the chilli and curry, but I eat quite a lot of rice (though the spring onion rice did sound delightful), but I was in the mood for some nice soft tortillas so went with the fajitas for a change. The sizzling plate of onions, peppers and portobello mushrooms mixed with spices was a lovely fragrant smell that tickled the tastebuds. I was ready to eat when I could smell the vegetables cooking. The tortillas were also kept nice and warm in its container. It was a lovely mix of flavours without being too spicy.
I always like to try and leave room for dessert, but I think that night we were all too full for the last course. I think it was fair to say we all enjoyed our food, although I feel like the service could be improved by staff being informed of why certain dishes aren’t vegan. It doesn’t help that waiting staff are only able to consult their tablets for dishes which are marked vegan without being given any explanation to feed back to customers. Without knowing if the deep fat fryer was the issue, I didn’t want to take the chance, but would have enjoyed my meal more if I could have sampled some of the OH’s sweet potato fries.
Las Iguanas Edinburgh can be found at 141-143 George Street, EH2 4JY and is open from 10:00am daily until 11:00pm Monday to Saturday and 10:30pm on Sundays. Bar is open on Fridays and Saturdays until 12:00 midnight. For reservations, call 0131 226 2107 or use their online booking system here.
Do you have a favourite dish at Las Iguanas? Where do you stand on the deep fat fryer situation, would you order the fries knowing that it was fried in the same vegetable oil as non-vegan dishes?