Cantina Laredo – Mexican Magic:
When London-Unattached was invited along to Cantina Laredo for an evening of Mexican food, I accepted enthusiastically, without actually checking what was happening the next day. Never have I been so relieved that I asked for the SECOND train out of St Pancras to Brussels. Even so, that kind of hard-core Mexican eating and drinking that I so easily lapse into probably wasn’t the wisest choice for the night before a long journey. I did try my best to avoid too many cocktails – sticking to a delicious classic Margarita rather than indulging in some of the wilder and tempting Tequila concoctions
But, first and before we got to try the Mexican menu, we were given a lesson in how to make Guacamole – picking our own favourite from the menu which offers eight variations with various levels of heat. Needless to say we picked the Guacamole con Chili Habanero – roasted yellow habaneros with avocado, coriander, roasted shallots and garlic. While I took photos, my companion set to under the guidance of executive chef Tarryn Ginsberg, part of the family who own Cantina Laredo.
The dishes used to make guacamole are a little like a kind of flattened out mortar. And, essentially the mixture is created by mashing up good (Hass) avocados in a mixture of lime and salt with various other seasonings. Mashing the mixture by hand means that you get a slightly lumpy texture rather than a smooth puree. And, adding the flavourings as you go, means you can taste and adjust the mixture to your own palate.
We both loved Tarryn’s tip to wipe round the lip of the bowl with a lime at the end to both clean it and add yet more flavour
And, we both wept when we saw one of the team at work later on – making guacamole in about a quarter of the time it had taken us
Ah well…a good excuse for another cocktail…
And of course for some of that rather fine guacamole
Meanwhile a whole assortment of sharing Entradas were arriving on the table. I particularly loved the Chicharron de Calamar (crispy fried baby squid with sunset salsa and thyme)
And the Seabass Ceviche – a lovely fresh iteration with a cucumber and lime salsa
The dishes seemed to be endless
And this was just to start
Moving on to main courses, I was particularly impressed with the beautiful and decadent Langostino ai Achiote Guiajillo (jumbo prawn with guajillo achiote butter) and with the Butterfly tiger prawns.
And the sweet potato and beetroot skewers with green habanero mayo were a revelation and a perfect veggie treat.
Just when we thought we could eat no more, a dessert menu arrived. Somewhat defeated I picked a personal favourite in the form of churros to go with a sobering black coffee in anticipation of the next morning’s journey.
And then had a bout of severe dessert lust when I spotted the chocolate fondant and brownie
All in, this is the kind of place I’d be happy to go with a group of friends. The food is made for sharing – and there’s a fun and lively atmosphere. Prices are keen for this part of London – with most of the small plates priced well under £10 and the larger plates somewhere between £15 and £25 depending on the ingredients. And, of course there are an excellent range of cocktails and guacamole. There are also special gluten free and vegetarian menus – so something to keep everyone happy.
Even if, like me, you intend to leave at 9pm, you will probably find yourself relaxing and still enjoying yourself till 11 or later.
10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, St Martin’s Courtyard
London, WC2H 9FB