Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Wahaca, Covent Garden

I have decided that I’m not going to dwell too much on this original branch of Wahaca. Mexican cuisine doesn’t belong to the world’s top five, it lingers perhaps within the bottom end of the top ten or maybe even fifteen but certainly not twenty as that’ll be too insulting. Eating Mexican is a change from the norm, it breaks the routine every now and then, but I can never bring myself to eat it everyday as the stodginess and spiciness of its cooking will break me in no time. Historically my tummy has an aversion to this kind of food; I’m not sure what it is, I point the finger at the combination of beans, chilli and cheese. This recent rekindling at Wahaca was indeed welcoming and glad to say no reports of disagreements in the guts department.

I first heard about Wahaca from Su-Lin and this her critique from last Spring. My first and rather positive experience with Wahaca was at its Westfield branch, this can be read here. Came here for lunch one Monday and the oft-reported queue at street level to this basement restaurant was thankfully non-existent.

I like the ambience of this restaurant, it proved more endearing and buzzy than the Westfield branch. The service was great, not too clingy nor inquisitively stalking that’s usually associated with restaurants of this ilk.

The Taquitos with chicken was appreciated by my daughter and myself. As per the Westfield experience the chicken was indeed tender and wonderfully seasoned. Two corn tortillas wrapped around said filling and deep fried. Served with crema, Lancashire cheese and fresh tomato salsa.

Tostadas of Nopalitos- Mexican cactus tossed in fresh tomato salsa and sprinkled with Lancashire cheese. This is fodder for grownups as it was way too spicy for kids, I loved it though!

Guacamole and tortilla chips- so that was supposedly the real McCoy guacamole, now being accustomed to the supermarket variety, I for one am not shy to put my hand up and declare that the Day-Glo green version from Waitrose beats it pants down. You need to know that there’s still a bit of plebeian left in me you know. And to save you the trouble I’m not even going to mention Doritos and MSG…

Quesadillas of Mexican chorizo, fresh thyme and steamed potatoes. This was palatable despite the lack of any chorizo hit, it somewhat reminded me of bombay aloo without the curry spices.

Tacos of shrimp a la diabla- shrimp marinated in chilled chilli salsa on a bed of warm Savoy cabbage. The prawns tasted semi thawed and as a result poor, otherwise the overall composition was surprisingly good.

Like Chinese food, puddings and desserts were scarce and uninspiring on the Wahaca menu. I like the whole concept of the place, I admire the instigator in Thomasina Miers, the lack of any toning down on the dishes to suit unadventurous palates and best of all, one can eat cheap and well here! The only fear I have now is when complacency takes on a new angle should Wahaca start to expand nationwide.

66 Chandos Place
London, WC2N 4HG


Eva said...

It really must be said that that guacamole looks pretty sad -- and not at all what real guac should look like. It clearly didn't have enough lime juice in it, or it wouldn't have been brownish.

The weird stuff in Waitrose and others tastes more like "guacamole dip" -- maybe it has mayo in it? Anyway, definitely has its place, but certainly doesn't hold a candle to true guacamole.

Thanks for this review! I've been missing Mexican...

bellaphon said...

Eva ;) Real guac...where art thou? I think best make 'em at home!

Anonymous said...

Travel the world! Taste a real fresh tortilla coming out of the comal in a real Mexican market! Then you will know what Mexican food is. You say that Wahaca has a fortunate "lack of any toning down on the dishes to suit unadventurous palates". Well... I don't know what do you call unadventurous palates but you sound like yours is one of them. Wahaca is a pleaser of inexperienced palates.

bellaphon said...

Anon- thanks for your comments and a big no thank you for posting them anonymously. It goes without saying that most of us don't have the resources to go to Mexico like you do or even if we do, it's not on our agenda to treat it as must visit destination before the likes of China, India, USA, Australia, etc. What Wahaca has done for us Londoners is basically that of a pioneering one; they educated us that there are more to tacos, chicken enchiladas and margaritas. Yes I reckon I'm adventurous enough to go to either Westfield or Covent Garden for an alternative to spicy fixes; are you suggesting that when back in Blighty you're the kind of person who sticks to pork pies and rice pudding because either chicken tikka masalas or chicken chow mein is deemed too inauthentic to you! You're one pretentious and snooty soul.

steve said...

looks like i'm two years too late to comment on this one but hey ho... i like wahaca but perhaps once or twice a year. i have found that the best shop bought guacamole comes from whole foods, but having said that, i am a big fan of the radioactive stuff from waitrose as well.

p.s. anon is a twerp