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Friday, July 27, 2007

WAHACA












Wahaca


I remember the thirty-five sweet goodbyes
When you put me on the Wolverine


Mexican restaurants used to be pretty thin on the ground in London but now there’s a veritable slew of them, no doubt down to the avalability of ingredients like the many varieties of chilli peppers that we couldn’t get over here before. The latest is called Wahaca and occupies an unloved spot in Covent Garden that hosted Bad Bob’s (I think) and latterly The Springbok.

It’s a bit of a strange space, is Wahaca, not packed with tables and was there really supposed to be no ceiling or maybe I’m just to old to appreciate cutting edge restaurant design. A few days into the opening though and everyone’s on best behaviour – I was greeted and shown to a table straight away and had the menu concept explained. I think it was AA Gill who didn’t want to know about any concept in a restaurant that wasn’t “I order, you bring, I eat, you clear away”. Still, it’s nice to have a bit of enthusiasm even if being asked if everything was ok after each mouthful began to pall after the 20th time. Ex-Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers was working her cotton socks off in the kitchen which is a good sign and the place was, if not quite jumping (like a Mexican bean) was pretty busy with 20-somethings, mostly women, enjoying themselves. As did I.

A little cocktail action to start, a Margarita, was nice and limey, the chiccarones I had with them were a bit on the lightweight side. The Guacamole exhibited the main problem with the food – it really needed a bit of pepping up. A little bit of salt, some of the beautifully smoky habanero hot sauce (which despite being told all the time how hot it was, wasn’t) and a bit of lime cheered it up no end.

Most of the dishes benefited from the same treatment. I was told by the co-owner that they didn’t want to spice things up too much and preferred to leave it to customers' individual preference. Fair enough I suppose but a bit at odds with the aim of authentic Mexican market cuisine.

I stuck to the Street Food section of the menu and liked the Black Bean Tostadas and the Pork Pibil Taco although the corn tortillas were a bit heavy. There was also a rather toothsome piquant pickle that went with a couple of dishes. The chorizo in the Quesadilla was nice and smoky but the oil had seeped out making the tortilla a bit greasy. This would be a distinct advantage though if you’d had one Modelo Negra too many. A big bowl of chocolate ice cream was very good and had a surprising chilli finish. They aced the mint tea test.

I wasn’t completely convinced by the food but it’s fresh, inexpensive and doesn’t leave a nasty taste in the mouth. A sort of Latin version of Leon. If they could inject a bit more oomph or soul into the food it would be so much better. Holy Frijoles !

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Su-Lin said...

Thanks for the heads up on this place! Definitely going to try this one.

Friday, July 27, 2007 2:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry to totally disagree with your comments.
i found the food full of life and the hot sauce WOW!!! is your mouth made of stone it was hotter than any "peri Peri" sauce i have ever tasted.
The fact that the food is served "as it is ready" is such a lovely change to the normal so formal; starters, main and desert.
I found Wahaca to be easily the most refreshing new Mexican restaurants around for a very long time- hopefully we will see a few more in time

Monday, July 30, 2007 9:00:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Even all the way from Japan, this smells like a shill

S

Monday, July 30, 2007 10:26:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Doesn't smell like the real enchilada does it ? More like PR-speak.

Monday, July 30, 2007 11:45:00 pm  
Blogger Kake L said...

Thanks for this writeup — it prompted me to give Wahaca a go. I pretty much agree with your opinions (more lengthy writeup here).

Re your anonymous commenter, we had a similarly gushing comment turn up on our site; the IP address of the commenter was 82.20.58.192.

Friday, August 03, 2007 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Glad to be of help. We just write as we taste (and experience it).

Saturday, August 04, 2007 9:36:00 pm  
Anonymous SDLondon said...

Spot on. We went here last night and service was terribly hit and miss -at one point the air-conditioning was leaking and a waiter behind me smashed a full tray of food, including green guacamole which, on the floor was deeply reminiscent of a Sunday morning street in Soho. Food was as you described, inherently flavoursome ingredients like chorizo or mackerel made certain dishes stand out over others and desserts were really rather better. Condiments were good. Staff were strangely hollering in a faux-hyperactive manner. Waiting almost 100 minutes to be seated really took the biscuit (churros?) however, there was the vibe of waiting to go on a theme-park ride and we were being promised 'the best expereince of your life'...Hmm..
Hopefully, when the service is in full swing in a few months time, they'll be much better.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Possibly the worst Mexican restaurant in the world!!
I was so looking forward to some fabulous Mexican food, what we got was BLAND and greasy and just plain DREADFUL!! good margaritas though!
AVOID!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 1:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few less pointless pictures and you wouldn't have your 'copy' arranged in that awful thin column. And, by the way, no PR writes that badly. If those praise comments are 'fake' they aren't professional. Oh, and IP addresses are no help. Most domestic users are on dynamic IPs. Some of the slag offs here read very similar to those on london eating etc. I wonder if Wahaca is being targeted by local rivals? You have to look both ways, you know.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 3:17:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Ooh - touch of the wrong side of bed Mr Anonymous ? In the London Nueva Cocina Mexicana war of 2007 things are certainly hotting up nicely.

PS Glad you like the pics - we aim to please

Sunday, September 16, 2007 2:42:00 pm  

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