I’ve not watched Masterchef since Loyd Grossman cogitated all over my post-school TV slot, so I have to admit I didn’t know who Thomasina Miers was until very recently. For those in the same boat as me, Miers is one of Masterchef’s success stories, impressing the judges with her culinary skills she used her victory to help set up Wahaca Canary Wharf. Bringing Mexican street food to a restaurant in London has proven to a success – some chilli, a floury tortilla and some slow cooked pork later and the fourth Wahaca opens its doors, this time on Soho’s Wardour Street.
The menu is split into three distinct sections; Street Food, Soups and Salads and Platos fuertes (bigger plates). The idea is to order 2-3 dishes of the street food per person and the equivalent of one bigger plate which can be shared or works as a generous portion for one. We particularly enjoyed the smoked MSC-certified mackerel tossed in salsa and finished with a squeeze of perky lime piled high on a crisp tortilla. There is an excellent mix of vegetarian options along with strong fish and meat dishes. Flavours were strong, punchy and lovingly crafted. Despite over-ordering we didn’t leave with that heavy feeling that Mexican food often affords. Miers was there at the opening, gliding between tables explaining ingredients and recommending her favourite dishes. Mexican food is communal and fun and you get strong sense of Miers’ genuine passion for food and Mexico itself when you eat at Wahaca.
It should be noted that deserts haven’t been overlooked. Unexpectedly good was the baked vanilla cheesecake, which Miers explained had been whipped before entering the oven for a light, lofty texture as delicate as fairy breath.
Swimming pool blue, sea shack yellow with splashes of fiery red. Wooden topped tables for four, high benches, a bank of floor to ceiling windows and mosaic tiling give the vibe a laid back, fun, contemporary feel. A relaxed, canteena like atmosphere and layout lends itself to post shopping eats, informal lunch meetings, early evening/late night munchies, pre-theatre belly filling and catch-ups with the girls.
Forget salt, lemon and what tastes like nail polish remover. Tequila at Wahaca is there to sipped, sampled, smelled – you can shoot it if you will, but expect smooth layers of flavour and a warm after burn rather than a desire to yank out your own tongue. Try the Tequila Experience, a story of four spirits to complement your meal, our favourite was a Blanco infused with Sangrita: cold, clear tequila muddled with orange, grenadine and spice, like a Mexican Bloody Mary.
Give me more
These days it seems just opening up a restaurant isn’t enough. The world demands Eco credentials, art adorned walls and a management who give half their profit to a Charity in outer Mongolia. With this in mind Wahaca doesn’t disappoint. Miers is a big advocate (as we all should be) for operating in as sustainable, green and ethical a fashion as should be. For each Torta sold 20p is donated to Ednica fund, supporting the homeless in Mexico City, the restaurant also donates all excess food and food is sourced on either a local or Fair Trade basis wherever possible.
Flying the flag
Is Mexican food having a renaissance in the Capital? Try these out for size and let me know what you think.
ElCamion, 25-27 Brewer Street, W1F
Run by Terence Conran’s son, this colourful bar plays host to 38 types of Tequila, all 100 per cent agave and the best plate of nachos I’ve ever eaten – opt for the ones with the pulled steak strips, mouth meltingly more-ish.
Boho Mexica, 151 – 153 Commercial Street, EC1
I’m yet to eat here, but for a trusted review you can do worse than Time Out