Birthday Lunch at Wahaca

The majority of food critics only write about ludicrously expensive restaurants. I don’t blame them. If I could eat for free wherever I went, I too would dine at three Michelin starred restaurants every night. Sadly, however, I have to pay for my food, so I review restaurants where normal people can afford to eat, whether trendy new burger bars or Mexican chain restaurants or even my local wetherspoons (where, incidentally, one can get a fairly good steak and a pint for £6- not bad if you’re strapped for cash!)

cs6I was working on my birthday so I couldn’t go for a proper slap up meal. As I only had an hour I wanted somewhere close to the office, inexpensive, with tasty food. I decided on the Charlotte Street brach of the Mexican chain restaurant Wahaca. For now there are only 13 restaurants, all in London, but these things grow so quickly I doubt it will remain such a small chain for long. This particular restaurant had been beautifully done with that perfect attention to detail and “quirkiness” which, ironically, only chain restaurants see to be able to perfect. Like the rest of central London at feeding timespace was at a premium. It was not a relaxed meal but the atmosphere was buzzy rather than claustrophobic. The service was good although I really dislike the way that chain restaurants can’t just stand up and admit what they are. By this I mean, the waiter felt the need to write his name on the top of the paper menu and buddy up to us in order to try and convince us we really were at a Mexican street feast. Everyone knew we were not.

The food however was delicious…

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It was a million miles away from the scores of burrito and taco places that line the streets nowadays. It felt like proper Mexican, I have never been to Mexico and I am sure the food is far superior to Wahaca’s, what I mean is they offer far more than an old el paso fajita kit. My boyfriend and I shared 4 tapas type dishes, dubbed ‘street food’. Their pork pibil was smokey and spicy, served inside soft corn tacos and topped with sweet, sharp pickled onions, yum! Also delicious was the crab tostada with avocado. Less exciting was the chicken taquito, essentially a Mexican spring roll using a tortilla.  It looked promising but had been fried for too long making it crispy and the chicken dry, the salad it came with was, however, lovely.

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Price ££- It wasn’t the cheapest meal in the world but not bad value at about £15 a head including alcohol.

Rating **- All in all food was nice, service was pleasant as was the atmosphere.

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Sorry I haven’t been very active on the stratosphere lately. I have been busy turning twenty-one and trying to work out why, in England, we chose to channel all our resources into celebrating a birthday after which, nothing in particular happens. Yet the Americans choose not to celebrate the long awaited moment when at last their parched lips can taste the first legal drops of sweet alcoholic nectar, no they get their parents to spend thousands of dollars on a party when they are 16… madness!

Anyway this is a blog about food, not my fairly mediocre life so I will make it quick. Here is a summary of my birthday celebrations including food and most importantly drink!!

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I had a smallish party at my house which included much merriment. The catering was done by Humdingers of Hoxton, we had delicious little canapés to start with, particularly good were mini scotch eggs served with piccalilli, mini haddock filled fishcakes and little morsels of soda bread topped with a sharp beetroot chutney and flakes of tea smoked salmon. The mushroom arancini (i.e. deep fried risotto balls) left a lot to be desired though, they were far too big for canapés and were a little bland. For mains we had rib eye steak with roasted vegetables and bernaise sauce. Steak and bernaise is one of my absolute favourites and it was very well done, if a little over done on the cooking side for me. Also the waiting staff weren’t really up to scratch meaning my dinner was cold! Having said this the food was all very nice and the chef was delightful, I would definitely use them again. Not least because of the fabulous cocktail waiter they brought with them who kept us drowning in gin for the whole night. His twist on a Tom Collins was honestly on of the best I have ever had and I drink a lot of gin (not in a victorian street walker way but still).

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Undoubtedly the biggest success was the cake from Lady Luck’s House of Cakes run by the lovely Stacey who is a friend of my sister’s. She makes the most amazing bespoke cakes, all by hand. The designs are amazing, her Pinterest is the ultimate food porn! I did think it might be a little bit style over substance as I don’t always love cakes with a lot of marzipan and decoration but it was unbelievable delicious, the cake itself was moist and fluffy and the marzipan was not overpowering as right underneath it was a seriously naughty layer of white chocolate ganache. Her cakes may seem a bit on the pricey side at £85 but, considering that catered desserts would normal cost around £3 per head and this cake easily serves 30, you are actually saving money.