Archipelago

Why go here:

To try exotic meats – there’s kangaroo to alpaca to crocodile on the menu.

What it looks like:

The restaurant is filled with cultural artefacts from all over the world. There are antiques like wooden giraffes, peacock feathers, Moroccan wall hangings and other random knick knack in every nook and corner of the place.

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The food:

You’ve got to be adventurous if you’re coming to eat here. While the menu does include some ‘safe’ dishes like the Massaman Chicken or the Malaysian-style Confit Duck, I was intent on trying the dishes I couldn’t get anywhere else. So, going in with that mindset, I ordered the Crocodile in Vine leaves and the Python Carpaccio for starters. The Crocodile meat was soft and flaky and was served with honey poached plums and pickled samphire, a crisp vegetable that grows in coastal areas.

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The Python looks like banana slices and tastes like chicken except much tougher. The accompanying green tea and wasabi crackers with olive puree were definitely the easier to digest components of the dish.

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For mains, we tried the Kangaroo Skewers and the Jerked Alpaca. The kangaroo was marinated in an Israeli sauce made of peppers and garlic and was served with candied beetroot and a red onion farofa, which happens to be a Brazilian dish made with maize-flour couscous. I found the kangaroo meat to be similar to lamb and quite succulent from the marination.

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The jerked alpaca came wrapped in a leafy bowl and topped with a cornmeal slice. There were plantain chips or Patecones on side along with a slab of buttermilk jelly, which tasted very much like Tofu. The alpaca was pretty fiery but the heat was offset pretty well by the creamy cornmeal slice and the buttermilk jelly.

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While we couldn’t brave the love-bug salad, we did order some coconut rice with a sprinkling of ants on the side, which were  surprisingly nice and crispy and tasted almost like breadcrumbs.

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Dessert was the Medieval Hive, which consisted of brown butter ice cream served with a beautifully silky honey and butter caramel sauce and all topped with a baby bee, the latter of which I very kindly let my friend enjoy all to himself. The ice cream and caramel sauce were to die for though!

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Verdict:

This place is a gem for all the adventurous foodies out there. The fusion of cuisines and the use of understated and unexplored ingredients makes the food here all the more fun. Dining here is definitely an experience and it explains why the restaurant has been referred to as one of London’s most romantic settings.

Cabana Brasilian Barbeque

Why go here:

If you’re looking for Brasilian BBQ but looking for an al-a-carte style meal with manageable portions instead of the infinite buffet style used in most other Brasilian places, this is the restaurant to go to!

What it looks like:

The Stratford branch is somewhere between a cool wooden shack and a warehouse, with postered walls, overhead lighting using spiky baubles and footlong chains making up curtains. Relaxed, easy going feel overall.

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The food:

My Pork Tenderloin dish was tender and well-marinated with chimichurri sauce. The melting, golden parmesan crust on top balanced the heat from the chimichurri while adding to the texture. The Picanha Burger is one of the most eats if you visit this joint- juicy Brasilian steak with chilli mayo and black beans and the extra of pulled pork is highly recommended!

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Our side of cassava chips went well with both dishes.

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My drink was a Guarana Antartica, Brazil’s version of Pepsi/Red Bull apparently, which unfortunately was too bland for my liking. But fear not, the place has a very good range of cocktails, of which the fruity cahaca ones (hint: the Red Tail Parrot) are really refreshing.

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Verdict:

Go if you’re looking for well done, not-too-spicy yet flavoursome Brasilian dishes in a laid back setting. But if you have a massive appetite, a traditional buffet style Brazilean restaurant might be a better deal for you.