Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Restaurant Review: Santo

Real Mexican food in London is difficult to find, people search desperately, trawling message boards discussing where they can get something that faintly resembles the real thing.  This is mainly the concern of ex-pat Americans.  Us Brits have been generally happy with Wahacca and that place that sells enormous burritos that fall apart when you take off the foil and leaves you with sour cream and guacamole all over your shoes.  I like Wahacca for the record, I think its fun.  One of my friends, who is  half Mexican, has a problem with its lack of authenticity, however, and has been trying out various places to find something that reflects his summers over there a bit better.  Santo is one of the places he found and liked, so when he suggested it for dinner I was happy to go along with the suggestion.
It was a really good choice.  Its a relaxed, low lit place with a nice buzz of conversation that makes it a good place to go with friends.  The service was friendly, although we had to be out within an hour and forty five minutes apparently.  I always think this is a bit weird because as long as the kitchen is doing its job it should get its customers through in that kind of time anyway.  Anyway, enough digression.  We started with a few drinks, they had a decent selection of Mexican beers, tequilas and mescals.  Most of us started with the michelada especial.  A normal michelada is lime juice beer and a salt rim on the glass.  The especial part was pepper and tobasco sauce.  I might start making these at home, very tasty and I reckon they'd make a good hangover cure.

The food came pretty quickly, we started with two dishes of melted cheese, one with bits of chorizo in it and white flour tortillas to eat with it.  Simple and delicious, definitely great comfort food and definitely welcome with the cold weather outside.  We decided to each order a cazuelo and share.  Except me, my choice was out so I ordered some chicken enchiladas.  The dishes came with plenty of small corn tortillas to wrap round the food.  The enchiladas were delicious, the tomato sauce as punchy, the tortillas hadn't gone soggy and they had just enough cheese to add a lovely richness.  The other standout for me was the lamb birria.  Slow cooked, tasty strips of lamb with green pepper and onion, had just the right balance between fat, soft meat and caramelised edges to the meat.  There was also some pickled vegetables on the side.  My advice with the chilli that comes as part of this is to not attempt to prove your manliness by eating half of it nonchalantly in two bites.  Having said it was funny to watch, so maybe just tell your friend its not hot and watch the results.

All in all a really nice place, not the cheapest, but good quality, tasty cooking and definitely a lot of fun to go to with a few friends and share.  Specially if your having a few micheladas.

No comments:

Post a Comment