Las Iguanas, Arcadian

We find pre-theatre dining an oddly unrelaxing affair with one eye on the clock at all times. However, a Saturday evening performance of The Nutcracker at the Hippodrome lent itself to a pre-ballet nibble. Ordinarily we’d be in Chung Ying devouring crispy duck pancakes faster than you can say hoisin, but we thought we’d branch out. Cue Las Iguanas at The Arcadian.

First impressions were ‘grandma’s not going to like it’. It was when she said: “Shall we go somewhere else?” that gave it away. Loud, lively, bright, canteen-like in décor and atmosphere we thought we’d made the wrong call for our party which included children under the age of 11 and a trio of big people that may or may not have included an octogenarian.

We stuck with it, bagged a large round table in the middle of the action and ordered a potent cocktail called Smoking Plums that at first glance appeared to have a burning cigarette poking out of it. “Cinnamon,” the waitress assured us through a fit of smoke-induced choking. Two for one meant double cocktails. They were pretty good too.

The kids enjoyed fizzy grapefruit juice and grandma nailed a glass of chardonnay (they didn’t have sauvignon). From here on in things improved. We forgot about clock watching, embraced the rough and ready vibe (although the state of the toilets was kind of unforgivable) and had a bundle of fun.

The food was really good which helped. Fiery nachos with four accompaniments was a great start. A strong veggie enchilada game followed filled with butternut squash, spinach, red peppers and cheese served with the customary refried beans and spring onion rice. It was gargantuan, but absolutely delicious. A perfect sirloin steak with punchy chimichurri was served with an unlikely star – Argentinian roasted sweetcorn purée. It didn’t look special, but tasted just that.

Fajitas were fun and tasty brought sizzling to the table, but again were massive. We probably got through a quarter. A Cuban sandwich filled with belly pork, pulled pork, emmental, sweet mustard and pickles squished into a toasted buttery bun was the size of my nine-year old’s face, but tasted great.

With no time for dessert we hotfooted it (teetered gingerly on heels actually) to the theatre pleased we’d stayed and would probably go back. However, we’d avoid Saturday night unless we were childfree and would order from the starters/tapas menu to avoid a mountain of waste.

Las Iguanas, The Arcadian, Hurst Street, Birmingham B5 4TD. Tel: 0121 622 4466 lasiguanas.co.uk