Mestizo – Mexican Food in Camden – A Culinary Adventure:
The last time I went to Mestizo was for the launch of Luchito. Of course the food was all made using Luchito and I was very impressed. But, I was keen to review the restaurant’s own menu and what better opportunity than during their Gastronomic Festival, which runs from 4th to 14th September ending with a ‘Fiesta de Independencia’ on 15th September.
It’s a charming idea to take us on a culinary tour of Mexico via a menu that includes Pescadillas from Guerrero on Mexico’s southern coastline, a region famous for its stunning beaches, mountains and lagoons and mole from Oaxaca and Puebla. There are ten regional starters and ten main courses to choose from so it’s possible to get a real feel for the variety of food on offer. And of course there are cocktails…we sampled a frozen mother margarita and a mango margarita. Mestizo has an amazing tequila bar where you can sample premium aged tequilas as well as a range of Mexican beers which can be served Michelada (with lime and salt), Chelada (with tabasco, salsamaggi, worcestershire sauce and lime juice and Levanta Muerto (with the addition of clamato juice to the Chelada). I’m really not a beer drinker but I do wonder what these concoctions are like and perhaps next time I might just sample one. For food, I started with Torta Ahogada from Jalisco. Comfort eating at it’s best this was a soft, sweet bun filled with pork and then surrounded with a spicy chile de arbol salsa. It definitely satisfied my craving for heat and tasted delicious. My companion chose Empanadas de Carnitas, which were enormous and almost defeated her before we moved on to the main course. A beautiful chocolate rich Pollo con Mole from Puebla was served with rice and beans. Again the portion size was a little overwhelming, but it was utterly delicious and somehow I think I managed to eat what must have been at least three chicken breasts! Enchiladas Mineras turned out to be another dish not for the faint hearted. Fried tortillas topped with grilled chicken breast with a salsa guajilo sauce and crumbled cheese was accompanied by a very generous portion of carrots and potatoes and some shredded lettuce. While it was pronounced delicious (my companion particularly liked the combination of chili sauce with crumbled cheese and chicken) it was just too much to finish.
Despite that, we thought we should try a dessert and ordered ‘the tiniest possibly portion’ of Pastel 3 Leche to share between us. I’m glad we did – it was light and despite the mix of condensed milk, evaporated milk and double cream, not in the least bit sickly.
The food at Mestizo strikes me as being like the sort of food you might get for a fiesta or special sunday lunch at a friend’s house. If your friend was a VERY good cook. It lacks the finesse of some of the fine dining restaurants in central London but makes up for that with ultra friendly service, a lively atmosphere and food that has a lot of flavour. Prices are around £4 up to £6.50 for starters and anything from £10 to £16.50 for main courses. But the portion sizes are generous so you may not want more than two starters or a shared main course. Mestizo has an ongoing programme of events and a basement music and cocktail bar in addition to the ground floor restaurant. I’d advise anyone going to arrive in party mode and enjoy the spirit of this friendly place full of Latin American spirit
I dined as a guest of Mestizo.
103 Hampstead Road
London NW1 3EL