"The only British outpost of the American chain"Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
Mexican food is something London undoubtedly does well, with a host of exceptional fast food outlets, street food vendors and market stalls peddling sumptuous burritos and fajitas, but as for a more upmarket dining experience? Cantina Laredo does a pretty good job.
Situated a stone's throw from Leicester Square and Covent Garden, in St Martin's Courtyard, the restaurant is the only British outpost of an American chain, which serves it well in keeping an air of exclusivity among a sea of generic dining experiences. Not too showy, yet still a step up from the 'food market' feel of other Mexicans I've encountered, the meal began with our waitress making fresh guacamole at our table. In went juicy avocados, jalapeño, red onion, tomatoes, coriander, lime juice and spiced, our mouths practically salivating as she mixed, before serving it up with warm tortilla chips and a couple of (rather potent...) Margaritas. So far, so good.
For starters we plumped for one of Cantina's signature dishes, the Costillas Adobadas, tender baby back ribs grilled and basted with guajillo chilli honey. Tender isn't the word; they pretty much fell off the bone and melted in the mouth. Absolutely delicious, and I don't even like pork. We also tried the Camarones pacing Tocinos, bacon-wrapped Tiger prawns with Oaxaca cheese and sliced jalapeño, served with a sweet potato sauce. Whoever came up with the notion of a bacon-wrapped prawn deserves a medal.
My guest decided on another signature dish for her main; Camaron Poblano Asada, grilled adobo-marinated skirt steak, wrapped around a fresh poblano pepper stuffed with sautéed Tiger prawns, mushrooms, onions and cheese, served on a chimichurri sauce. Through mouthfuls if gluttony satisfaction she was able to tell me it was one of the most delicious things to have ever passed her lips. I think the fact that it came wrapped in a steak helped. I tried a Veracruz Enchilada, chicken breast, spinach and cheese topped with a tomatillo salsa verde, marinated Veracruz vegetables and fresco cheese. To be honest, that wasn't the best; the chicken was a little dry and there was a little too much coriander for my liking, it was somewhat overpowering the other flavours. We accompanied our mains with side of very pleasant Cascabel Zucchini (grilled courgette skewers with cascabel and sesame drizzle) and Camotes al Horno (sweet potato bake with honey, ginger and jalapenos); a nice change to have some veggies.
Dessert, and another Cantina Laredo signature dish of chocolate fudge brownie, served on a sizzling skillet with Mexican brandy butter and vanilla cream, which fizzled and bubbled and caramelised into absolute deliciousness. My cinnamon and sugar churros with orange crème and chilli chocolate sauce were pretty darn tasty, though a little bit too undercooked in the middle to be perfect.
Cantina Laredo is a great addition to the St Martin’s Courtyard dining portfolio, and despite the minor setbacks of the gooey churros and coriander overdose, the service couldn’t be faulted and overall it was a very enjoyable evening meal.
Laurel reviewed Cantina Laredo on Fri 28 Mar 2014