Posted on Tuesday, 11th October 2016
Last month, Mestizo, Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, celebrated Día de la Independencia (The Mexican Independence Day) with a special gastronomic week. One of the most traditional, authentic Mexican restaurants in London, the week was designed by Mestizio to showcase the diversity and depth of Mexican food by curating a regionally inspired menu that took guests on a culinary journey around Mexico. For this purpose, the menu included such dishes as pescadillas from Guerrero, to a warming Pollo con Mole from the highlands of Puebla, to the Mexican lamb stews from Birria.
Gastronomic Week at Mestizo is long over, but it was still a good opportunity to experience one of the most authentic Mexican dining experiences one can get in London. Mestizo first opened its doors in 2004, and has long been one of the leading ambassadors of Mexican food in London, often championing this diverse cuisine through special gastronomic events such as the Gastronomic Week seen last month and other events organised in conjunction with the Mexican Embassy. Moreover, Mestizo, has the largest tequila selection in the UK (some 260+) and is proud to share the Mexican’s love of its iconic national spirit through the various tequila Masterclasses, tequila tasting experiences or ‘Tequila and food pairing experiences’ at Mestizo.
As part of our journey across Mexico, we started with some pescadillas from Guerrero (£5.60), 2 corn tortillas filled with some chilli spiced flaked fish, tomatoes, onion and garlic, and then deep fried until golden. These were excellent and tasted rather special. The tortilla casing itself was light and crispy with a mellow corn flavour, and the fish was moist with a rustic comforting flavour with a nice little kick from the chilli. This was exactly how I imagined authentic, classical Mexican food to be.
Also delicious were the empanadas de cazon (£4.80) from Campeche, 2 corn pastries filled with flaked white fish, tomato, epazote (a Mexican herb), chopped olives and capers. Again the filling was moist and delicious, offering up a good contrast of sweetness from the tomatoes and acidity from the capers. Again a lovely authentic taste of Mexico.
Tamales costenos (£5.80) from Veracruz, 2 pieces of corn maize pork cooked in a chipotle chilli and tomato sauce and wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed proved to be somewhat underwhelming. The corn maize was reminiscent of the corn maize I tried during my travels through Mexico, however the pork was very dry which let the tamales down.
To mains, and Mole Amarillo (£16.50) from Oaxaca, a shank of lamb cooked in a spicy marinade and covered in a yellow ‘mole’ stew of herbs, tomatillo, guajillo chilli, green beans and chayote, was a pleasant if a slightly underwhelming dish. The lamb boasted a good flavour and was tender, although not tender enough to fall of the bone. And although the ‘mole’ was relatively tasty, it hadn’t penetrated the flesh of the meat enough to really make this dish truly exciting. We would have both just preferred more punch to come through from the sauce.
Enchiladas mineras (£12.50) from Guanajuato consisted of fried tortillas topped with grilled chicken breast, a salsa guajillo chilli sauce and crumbled cheese accompanied with carrots, potatoes, lettuce and strips of jalapeño chilli. We did not enjoy this dish at all, finding the tortilla itself to be a little dry, and the salsa to be quite unpleasant on the palate.
We tried three different desserts, all of which were very reasonably priced. The first was a pastel 3 leche (£4.20), a rich almost ‘custard’ like cake made with 3 milks, these being condensed, evaporated and double cream. This dessert was excellent. It had a beautifully creamy texture and consistency, a wonderful rich taste, and was not too sweet. Flan casero (£3.60) a rich Mexican version of creme caramel was also delicious, and creamily decadent.
Pastel de elote (£5.40), a special corn cake with vanilla ice cream was also enjoyable for its unique corn flavour. This cake had a denser consistency as compared to the usual cakes, and despite it unique flavour, I enjoyed it and was convinced of its authenticity. However this dessert might be an acquired taste for some.
There were some real highlights on the Mestizo menu, but also some average moments as well. But where the food hit the high points, it truly was a joy to eat. This was a good venture into the foray of authentic Mexican food, which is a rare thing in London. The decor at Mestizo is basic and the service is casual to complete the ‘home cooking’ feel.
The likes of the better-known Wahaca chain provides more of a Tex-Mex experience, and cannot be considered to be truly authentic. As such Mestizo should be applauded for waving the Mexican flag so high in London. Just need to choose carefully from the menu as there was some slight inconsistency in the cooking.
1) The pescadillas from Guerrero.
2) The empanadas de cazon.
3) Pastel 3 leche
4) The reasonable prices.
1) The enchiladas mineras
2) I thought the Mole Amarillo would have had better, stronger flavour.
Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Prices: about £20 to £25 a head excluding drinks and service