Iâ€™ve not been for a Mexican meal in ages, not since a rather unpleasant episode which involved an Australian Human Resources contractor, OCHO El Vergel 2007 and almost being run over by three taxis.
Luckily though, in the first of what I hope will be many guest posts on TFT, my good friend Ed was able to step in and selflessly seek out the Mexican way. He took a date to Mestizo in Euston recently and was kind enough to tell us all about it. Take it away Ed!
Seeking a first date restaurant in the in-between station district near the Wellcome Trust, I turned to this blog’s illustrious author. His suggestion was Mestizo, a lower Camden Mexican and tequila restaurant five minutes’ stroll from Euston station.
Now maybe it’s just me, but when I think about Mexicans, it’s hard to avoid stereotypes. For example ‘Mexicans are serious and hard working‘ or ‘Mexican sports cars are excellent‘. When it comes to Mexican cuisine, my perception is that – like Mestizo’s location, and name, which means ‘mixed race’ – it is a bit in-between: ‘Old El Paso, chuck together some beans and spices, quick ‘n’ easy‘. Perhaps that’s more of a comment on my (lack of) cooking prowess than Mexican food; but either way, Mestizos was a pleasant surprise – an in-betweener in the good sense.
On the approach to Mestizo, it was reassuring to see steamed up windows – there were actually people there! When you enter, attention is immediately pulled to the bar. OK, that’s partly because it’s shiny; but another minor reason may be the ten foot-high array of tequilas. Now I have a fond personal history with tequila, which was the culprit for my first drunken experience at age 16. That was the night that our friend started climbing on bins and chasing cars, before subsiding over the toilet bowl*. Tonight was a first date and I was keen to make a good impression and entertain, so I decided to invite my old friend tequila to the party.
*if it is the same day I think it is, I was there; and am ashamed to say that it all took place at my house…
But going straight to tequila may have appeared over hasty. My companion and I started with a twist on the classic Mexican mojito. There was an ample selection, and a helpful waiter to guide us. We chose the Morher Margerita, the frozen option and very reasonable at Â£seven, which was a fruity delight that – aided by some nachos with a spicy salsa – kept us occupied while we looked through the well populated menu.
Our main came out in a steaming volcanic cauldron – the stone was actually magma. Priced at a very reasonable Â£twelve fifty each and called Molcajete – after the volcanic rock of its container – our meal was a tasty array of chicken (we avoided the mixed beef option), spring onions and cheese in a sweet and spicy sauce. Served with make it yourself tortillas, it was an eat with your hands and try not to make a mess job – perhaps not ideal on a date. Fine dining it was not, and the tablecloths and napkins certainly took a pounding; but it was far superior to Old El Paso, and worth the effort.
The portion was generous, and we had no interest in dessert; it was tequila time! The separate menu was duly brought out with the accompanying helpful staff advice. We settled for the tasting menu, of three Herraduras of varying ages, for a reasonable Â£fifteen. It appears there’s a reason you’re told to drink cheap tequila as fast as possible – the taste. This quality stuff had none of that roughness, a pleasant warmth, and the Anjeco (Vintage) tequila had an aftertaste to rival single malt scotch.
There were a couple of downsides to Mestizo. The Mexicana on the TVs did make you feel that you maybe have stepped into a branch of the Mexican tourist office. And the service was far more attentive to my female companion than me – though to be fair that may be standard in most restaurants, and given our relative attractiveness! But overall Mestizo was a good in-betweener, and a positive mexican stereotype: reasonably priced and tasty food, with helpful service in that tricky in-between area near Euston station.
Main courses around Â£fifteen, Antojitos (small plates I guess) around Â£four to Â£eight and ooh they have a takeaway Burrito menu too which is more than a little exciting
103 Hampstead Road, NW1 3EL | 0207 387 4064 | @mestizomx
Â© Ed & Mike Dalley, March 2013