Thursday, 30 September 2010

Casa des Amis, Canterbury

Apart from walking in on the chef using the urinal in the gents (the ladies was closed for refurbishment), I had a very pleasant experience at Casa des Amis. Don't be put off by use of French for the name; the restaurant focuses on serving Mexican cuisine with a 'Mediterranean perspective', a somewhat different and yet plausible concept.

Situated in what appears to be an old pub (with remnants of a past nautical theme), the walls are lined with an odd collection of 3D papier mache images by a couple of local artists. It all feels fun and bright, although a little haphazard. There's a reasonable choice of dishes on the full menu plus several lunch specials which include a drink for £7-8. We decided to try a mixture of plates; huevos rancheros, a quesadilla, chicken salad and a burrito, the latter which we requested 'extra spicy'. While there was somewhat of a wait for our dishes to appear, the portions were ample and everything met our expectations. Fresh habanero spiced up the burrito, the salad was fresh and tasty, and both the 'traditional' dishes were on a par with others I have had elsewhere. Sides of black beans and guacamole excelled themselves.

However, the general consensus around the table was that the meeting of the Med and Mexico was a little unnecessary. Surely there's enough going on in a quesadilla without the addition of pesto? Who needs parmesan mash to accompany their mole? This isn't the place for a cheap meal either. While there is an early bird menu, most of the dishes from the full menu seem quite pricey, even by London standards. Many of the other diners were tucking into the fajita plate for two, a generous pile of sizzling meat accompanied by warm tortillas and the usual sides. While it all looked very good, it would set you back some £33 for the steak for two.

Cafe Des Amis is no Tex-Mex outlet. The food is interesting, if a little over complicated, but it's a great place to go if you fancy something different in Canterbury.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The 'first truly authentic Mexican restaurant' opens in London

To claim to be 'London's first truly authentic Mexican restaurant' is a bold statement and one that shouldn't be made lightly, especially by a newcomer to the scene. However, it's exactly what Lupita has done, their claim strengthened by the fact that the people behind this venture have over forty-five years' experience running the taqueria El Farolito in Mexico City. 
Authenticity is somewhat of an ongoing debate when it comes to food, especially in this day and age when there's growing concern about where our produce comes from and whether we can we justify the food miles. Luptia claim to use use as many authentic Mexican ingredients as they can lay their hands on to produce plates of food on a par with those in Latin America.
So, is it any good? Well, several blogger reports appear to be favourable although not everyone agrees. The menu defintely gives Wahaca a run for its money and the dishes are very reasonably priced. You can call ahead and book a table too which is definitely a good thing (unless you enjoy queueing). I don't think it will be long until we see another one open in the capital. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tortilla to open fifth site in London

Tortilla appears to be going from strength to strength and has recently announced plans to open a fifth outlet in the heart of the city, Leadenhall Market.

The restaurant will be able to seat 110, with a further 20 outside, and is due to open mid-September. It's a great location and I'm sure it will be a popular one, rivalling it's sister store at Canary Wharf, which serves up a mere 20,000 meals a month, apparently one of the busiest burrito outlets in the UK. Put those fellas end to end, and you've got almost two miles of mexican munchies. That's a lot of burrito.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Viva la independencia!

Tomorrow evening, Mestizo is hosting a five course dinner in celebration of Mexican Independence Day.

For £59 a head, you can sample some of the best Mexican food in London, along with live Mariachi, music and el grito. As usual, downstairs will be hosting its own party, entry fee £15 (including a welcome Corona)

If you can't make it on Wednesday evening, then curate la cruda (cure the hangover) Thursday with
some traditional dishes such as Chilaquiles, Pancita, Birria & Pozole. From 12 noon until closing.

Mestizo, 103 Hampstead Road, NW1 3EL, London
Tel: 020 7387 4064

Monday, 13 September 2010

Mexican food in Oxford: Mission Burritos

In broadening the search for Mexican food as it spreads across the country, there's been a lot of buzz recently about Mission Burritos, a small chain of (you guessed it) burrito joints based in Oxford and Reading. The Guardian have just crowned MB top dog of their list of cheap eats in Oxford and it's a serious competitor for dishing out some of the best burritos across the country. I particularly like their take on burritos as 'brain food', exhorting the 'mental' benefits of a diet containing tomatoes, beans and avocado. Perfect fodder for the hungry student out there.

For further details, see