I love Mexican food and take every opportunity to eat it when I’m in North America. When I heard about a cheap new Mexican place opening in London, I wanted to visit but it took me a while to finally try it.
I’d tried once before to get into Wahaca for dinner but a 45 minute wait put me off. We decided to come instead one weekend for lunch, when it was considerably emptier. We descended slowly down the stairs to the basement restaurant, taking in these new surroundings. The host waved us down huge arm-sweeping gestures and when we finally got to his stand, he proceeded to stick his nose up in the air, pretended to write furiously with his feathered quill-pen, and then pompously stated, with a big grin, that he was writing a sonnet. Many words to describe him came to my mind, none of them appropriate for me to put here. This was not a good sign.
We were promptly seated and the whole menu was explained to us after we’d answered in the negative to their question of whether we’d been there before. We’d already decided on the mixed platter for two upstairs from the menu by the door and so selected our drinks – two homemade hibiscus waters. We were also upsold the frijoles, but hey, I’m a sucker for refried beans. The entire time the waiter acted like our “mate”, our cooler-than-thou buddy. I hate that.
He promptly delivered our salsas. The red was a chipotle salsa and it did pack some heat. The green was a mixture of green tomatillos and herbs and chilies and was the milder of the two.
It was after we received our drinks (which were very nice and at a very nice price) that I noticed that the dishes on the menu at our table were not the same as those listed on the menu outside. The mixed platter also had different dishes and I wouldn’t be able to try huitlacoche for the first time. This, of course, annoyed me no end when after dinner I realised that they just hadn’t changed the menu outside. Not good. Even the menu online hasn’t been updated.
A waitress came over to our table with the tiny bowl of black beans in her hand, dropped it, and then walked away without another word. Weird. Luckily, the beans weren’t strange; they were actually quite delicious and topped with some crumbled cheese. Crumbled cheese?! What’s crumbled cheese? I mean, other than just taking cheese and crumbling it.
The platter arrived looking quite delicious.
Let’s take a look around, shall we?
Quesadillas were chorizo and summer broad bean and both were pretty good.
Tacos were steak
and espinacas (spinach). The tacos were minuscule and strangely greasy. The tortillas looked as if they’d been dipped in oil before being filled. Apart from the greasiness, they were tasty enough. Better with a bit of salsa.
Chicken taquitos were greasy, of course, but that’s to be expected from deep fried food! Nothing very special – just chicken in tortillas and the whole thing was deep fried. They were topped with a pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream and that crumbled cheese again.
Rounding off the platter were the spicy slaw, guacamole and totopos. Totopos were as one would expect – freshly fried tortilla chips. I just wish there were more on the platter. The spicy slaw was actually very nice – this was definitely a surprise to me, a coleslaw disliker. There was a bit of spice and something tangy in the mayo dressing and the cabbage and carrot shreds weren’t overloaded in the creamy sauce. Guacamole was average; I thought it needed more lime.
A friend who visited soon after they opened felt that she was force fed the information that Wahaca was the restaurant of a Masterchef winner. Is that really necessary? I found the service a bit vulgar – call me old-fashioned but I don’t like it when the waiter is my “friend”. I doubt I’ll visit again and this is solely based on the service there – the food seemed promising and I would have given them another chance and maybe I will if I get a craving for Mexican food that can be sated no other way. But if I want mates, no thanks, I’ll turn to my own.
66 Chandos Place
London WC2N 4HG