Amidst the plethora of burrito eateries and tex-mex restaurants in London, it is easy to lose sight of what Mexican cuisine is all about. Thankfully there are restaurants like Mestizo, which are run by Mexicans from the kitchen to the front of house staff which aims to deliver the genuine, authentic experience. Even more surprising, in the age where new restaurants open and close every week, they have been delighting diners for over 11 years with their passionate cooking.
Despite the advancing years, the decor shows little signs of ageing: there is a stunning Aztec mural on the wall as you enter, whilst there are quirky touches like a cabinet displaying different types of chilli and an absolutely divine looking bar area, where they have displayed every possible tequila and mezcal you can think of. There is also a vast amount not on display, as they contain the largest array of tequilas and mezcals in the UK if not in the whole of Northern Europe.
If you don’t want to spend hours mesmerised by their special tequila menu, the recommended drinks option to try is their tasting menu, where you get 3 x 25ml tequilas from the same family; blanco, reposado and anejo plus a red and green sangrita to cleanse your palate.
They often run special festivals at the restaurant to celebrate special occasions and we went along to try their special gastronomic week menu, which had 10 starters and 10 main courses from 10 different states in Mexico to choose from. If you were not aware of the variety in Mexican cuisine, you will after this gastronomic experience.
We tried the pescadillas from Guerrero, which had tremendously well-seasoned fish flakes in a deep-fried tortilla shell. What is traditionally a casual street-food dish, came across as delicate and remarkably refined. The tomatoes, garlic, chilli and herbs were not just about overpowering a dish with an explosion of taste, but finding the right balance to complement the core ingredient.
The torte ahogada, which is a home-made bread roll stuffed with pork with chilli and salsa was quite the opposite dish but equally well made. It is traditionally given as a dish to cure a hangover, as it is very filling, very flavoursome and soaks up the excess alcohol in your system. It does looks remarkably like a main course rather than a starter.
The mole amarillo for the main course I was slightly less impressed with as the shank of lamb that arrived was so large, you can possibly feel full just be looking at the dish. Their slow-cooking of the dish could have continued for a little longer, as the meat wasn’t quite ready to fall off the bone with a minimal application of pressure. Although the yellow mole sauce was so divine, it was finished before even a 1/4 of the lamb shank was devoured.
The olla mestiza on the other hand was well judged in terms of the tenderness of the stew of beef and pork ribs. Once again it had a rich sauce of tomatoes, onions and garlic along with indulgent pork crackling.
You know this is the right place for authentic Mexican food, when you hear that Mexican embassy staff frequent Mestizo on a regular basis.
Do check out their website for various celebrations such the Gastronomic Week, Dia de la Independencia and Dia de Muertos.