Convent Garden was heaving on a warm Friday evening. We couldn’t get in to our restaurant of choice as events during the week had meant a change in our schedules and we couldn’t get things back on track, so we headed out early to Convent Garden, in the hope we could bag a pre-Theatre meal without a booking.
The Daughter was having a teenage thing, didn’t want “Asian” and this seemed to encompass most of the world from India to Japan, we didn’t want Fish and Chips, or Modern European or indeed French, so as 6.30 approached the chances of a decent place having space became more remote. “How about Mexican?” – I had a moment of inspiration “that’s not Asian” (I was on the ball here you see). Deal done, we started off with a google walking map on the phone to find Cantina Laredo.
Not your usual Mexican themed restaurant, aspiring to more of a “fine dining” vibe and an emphasis on Modern Mexican cuisine and the art of the Tequila. We got in with just a couple of minutes to spare for the pre-Theatre menu which, at £20 a head for a starter, two (small plate) mains and a side, and a Marguerita for a £5, was pretty good value. We were seated straight away and the service was attentive and helpful. The manager popped over to welcome us and ensure we knew he was Mexican and he knew his stuff. Fair enough.
I went for the Crispy Chicken tacos with chile de arbol cream, the husband went for Quesadillas de Pollo with blue corn tortillas (a first). If I am honest, both dishes were very pleasant, but just a bit bland, the texture was great on the tacos but a bit more heat/flavour would have worked well.
For mains we shared Tempura mushrooms – Tacos de Hongo Portabello – enjoyed these very much but wisely left the little tortillas they sat on as I knew there wouldn’t be room for it all and Brochetas de Arrachera – skirt steak skewers with sweet Mexican soy and chille de arbol. These were little bit chewy – but this is the cut of meat, but the flavour was super, really spicy, really enjoyable.
Sweet potato and beetroot skewers with green habanero mayo went down very well with the husband, as did the pork belly corn tortillas, accompanied black beans (really tasty) and Grilled Sweetcorn with sour cream.
The daughter opted for the Chicken Fajitas and the Chocolate Brownie.
The Chocolate Brownie was a bit of a spectacle – designed to be served on a hot sizzling iron platter, the server theatrically pours the vanilla butter over the brownie to create a bubbling toffee sauce.
Unfortunately for our poor Server the kitchen had overheated the platter and when she poured over the sauce it erupted in a wall of steam and smoke that must have singed her eyebrows. Rather loyally she tried to persevere and serve the platter to the table, by which time the sauce was black, the smoke was making our eyes water and stinging our throats and I think we were probably seconds away from the restaurant smoke alarms going off and the sprinkler system kicking in. Like Mr Ben (some of you will remember) the manager suddenly appeared, grabbed the platter with “I’ll just replace that one for you”, commanded all the doors to be opened to let out the smoke and swiftly brought a slightly less nuclear version for the poor server to repeat the exercise. Got be said though, it was a sublime brownie.
We enjoyed our meal, service was great, Brownie event was funny and well handled….we blew the £20 a head vfm thing by adding half a dozen cocktails to our meal and if I am honest, a bit more flavour would have gone down well with some of the dishes, but not bad value for the heart of Covent Garden on a Friday night. Would I go back? with all the choice in London, I’m afraid it probably wouldn’t get another go, but it was nice enough.