Time for some more tacos

Another lunch and another visit to Wahaca. This time a return visit to the branch on the South Bank. This was the first Wahaca I visited and it is one of my favourites. I like how the whole place is just made from shipping containers, and the great views across the Thames.

This time I went with three dishes from the street food market (as I normally do).

I do like the grilled steak tacos, I have had these quite a few times now. These tacos come with flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas.

Grilled British steak Tacos Flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas #wahaca

These were very nice, most of the steak was tender and tasty, one bit was a bit chewy, but apart from that they were delicious.

For my two other choices I went with new dishes. I do like chicken wings, so was intrigued by the hibiscus glazed wings.

Hibiscus glazed wings Crisp & juicy chicken wings tossed in a sticky hibiscus & pasilla chilli glaze #wahaca

These were described as crisp & juicy chicken wings tossed in a sticky hibiscus & pasilla chilli glaze.

The chicken wings had been cooked in the deep fat fryer and were lightly tossed in the glaze. I had quite a high expectations for this dish, but in the end it was slightly disappointing. The chicken was slightly dry, however the sauce was nice.

My final choice was the Mexico City style salmon sashimi tostadas. Made from sustainably-sourced raw salmon with a squeeze of fresh lime & soy, tobacco onions, chipotle salt, avocado & chipotle mayo.

Mexico City style salmon sashimi. Sustainably-sourced raw salmon with a squeeze of fresh lime & soy, tobacco onions, chipotle salt, avocado & chipotle mayo #wahaca

I really liked these. A nice combination of fresh tasting salmon combined with crunchy corn tortillas and a nice spicy zing.

I have found that I have enjoyed every meal at Wahaca and will most certainly be visiting again.

Another visit….

the view from Waterloo Bridge

Back in London for a meeting and needing a bit for lunch, I did consider where I should go for lunch, and if I should go somewhere new, but did like the idea of Wahaca again. It wasn’t that long since I had been, but I had really enjoyed that meal. So off I went, over Waterloo Bridge to the South Bank to partake in some Mexican street food. So once more I went to the Street Food section of the menu to make some choices.

I hadn’t had quesadillas before so chose one from the menu. These are large toasted tortilla oozing with melting mozzarella, chorizo and potato. This is British chorizo, made to a special recipe, with diced sauteéd potatoes and fresh thyme.

Quesadillas Large toasted tortilla oozing with melting mozzarella and classic Mexican ingredients.  British chorizo, made to our own special recipe, with diced sauteéd potatoes and fresh thyme.

The large tortilla is folded and then cut into two. I did initially think that I had been given the wrong dish, as I didn’t think there was much potato or chorizo in the dish. There was more in the second though. I did enjoy the quesadilla it was nice and spicy.

My other dish was the smoky tomato fideus. These were east coast Mexican angel hair noodles in a chipotle tomato sauce, with sliced fresh avocado, capers & crumbled Lancashire cheese and topped with a touch of hand picked white Devon crab meat.

Smoky tomato fideus East coast Mexican angel hair noodles in a chipotle tomato sauce, with sliced fresh avocado, capers & crumbled Lancashire cheese, topped with a touch of hand picked white Devon crab meat. #wahaca

This was a much larger dish than I thought it was going to be. When Wahaca recommend 2-3 dishes, I usually go with three, but if this is one of them, then I think you can get away with just two, even if you are hungry.

This is very much thin noodles in a tasty spicy tomato sauce. I liked the avocado and cheese. There was a nice topping of crab, which to my surprise was chilled and hadn’t had a chance to warm up. I did like this dish and it was full of flavour, and something I wouldn’t expect in an Mexican eatery.

For my third dish, I did order a dish I had before, and went once more with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa. They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole.

Tacos flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa with crisp grilled cheese

These were very generous filled with steak, more than I have had when I had these tacos before. These were delicious, I really enjoyed the chargrilled steak and the different textures and flavours.

The service was excellent, friendly, efficient and lots of smiles.

So what’s close by?

I have really enjoyed my previous visits to Wahaca, visiting central London and looking for somewhere to eat, I did wonder if there was a Wahaca close by, a quick search and 0.2 miles away on Charlotte Street.

This is a very different establishment to the one on the South Bank, more traditional in appearance from the outside. Inside it felt more like the one on the South Bank, the furniture was very similar. The staff were friendly and welcoming. Inside there were the similar tables and chairs, but as the place isn’t made from shipping containers, the walls were brick and the ceilings high.

Looking over the menu, I decided to go with one of the specials as they were different from those at my last visit. There was a choice of two, so I went with the lamb taquito, this was slow-braised lamb shoulder marinated in ancho chilli and orange rolled in a crispy fried tortilla.

slow-braised lamb shoulder marinated in ancho chilli and orange rolled in a crispy fried tortilla

Unlike my previous experience with taquitos, these were very tasty, strong flavours. The fried tortilla was nice and crip and I enjoyed the accompanying slaw.

I also went with the Tostadas, two crispy corn tortillas topped with fresh, light layers of Mexican flavour, served chilled.

Tostadas, two crispy corn tortillas topped with fresh, light layers of Mexican flavour, served chilled.

These were smoky chargrilled chicken, avocado, guacamole, chipotle mayo and fresh slaw. This was delicious and refreshing. A wonderful combination of tastes and textures.

I did also order a dish I had before, and went with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa.

three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa

They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole. As before they were delicious. I was asked if I wanted grilled cheese with them, I said no, but they arrived with the grilled cheese. I felt this added very little to the dish and wasn’t really needed, pleased that I wasn’t charged for this extra.

Another enjoyable visit to Wahaca and some great food.

A little more Mexican market eating

You can tell how much I like somewhere sometimes whether I go again, so just a week after my previous visit, I found myself waiting outside Wahaca for it to open at midday to grab a quick lunch. There was a bit of a queue to get in, but I think that demonstrates how popular the place is to go and eat.

Wahaca, one of a chain of Mexican street food eating places that to be honest I only found out about last week! There are branches across London and England, there is even a branch in Bristol! I went again to the branch on the South Bank. The restaurant is situated on the South Bank next to Waterloo bridge. It is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels, with both inside and outside seating.

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. As with my previous experience the staff were friendly and welcoming.

There is a wide choice of dishes, the menu is split into nibbles, bigger food and street food. The street food menu is a range of smaller dishes. As I had missed breakfast, there was a cancelled train, so I had rushed to catch the earlier one, and was hungrier, so I went with three dishes, whereas in my last visit I had had two dishes.

I really wanted to try something different this time so made sure I didn’t go with the dishes I had before.

Of the three dishes I ordered, the first to arrive was some taquitos. These were two corn tortillas filled, rolled and fried into crispy cigars and served with shredded salads and salsas.

taquitos were filled with crab and shrimp in a gently spiced Veracruzan tomato sauce, topped with habanero slaw and fresh tomato salsa.

These taquitos were filled with crab and shrimp in a gently spiced Veracruzan tomato sauce, topped with habanero slaw and fresh tomato salsa.

I really liked the look of this dish, I thought it was well presented. The habanero slaw and tomato salsa were delicious and very fresh. As for the taquitos I wasn’t as impressed with them as I thought I would be. They were quite spicy and crunchy, but I couldn’t really taste the crab and shrimp. I was hoping that the crunch of the crispy rolled tortilla would be complemented by the fresh taste of seafood, but alas it wasn’t to be. I really did enjoy the slaw and salsa. It was reasonably priced at £4.95.

My next two dishes arrived together. One of these was one I was going to order last time, but in the end chose something different. I went with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa. They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole.

three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa

I really enjoyed this dish, the steak was cooked well and was very tasty. The accompanying salsa and guacamole added a little extra to the dish. Each tacos had two or three pieces of steak. These I thought were also reasonable priced at £4.50 for three.

My final dish was one of the specials, Gringa Taco. Described in the menu as Mexico city’s favourite street food dish. Grilled pork pastor, marinated in achiote and pineapple, served in a floured tortilla with toasted cheese.

Gringa Taco

I did wonder what achiote was and found our later that it is a Yucatecan condiment called recado rojo or “achiote paste”. It is made from ground Bixa orellana seeds combined with other spices. As a result the pork was very red and quite spicy. The floured tortilla was first spread with guacamole and the pork added as a layer to the top of that before a chunk of grilled pineapple topped the dish.

This was quite a spicy dish, but was delicious. The pork was very tender and the guacamole helped offset the heat of the spice. I did think that a spoonful of sour cream would have helped finish the dish, but I am guessing that is more American than Mexican. I did like the grilled pineapple which added a real contrasting sweetness to the spiciness of the dish and was fresh and tasty. Reasonably priced at £5.15.

The service as before was excellent and I really enjoyed my food and the meal.

Looking forward to next time.

A little Mexican market eating

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

Walking over the bridge to the South Bank there is Wahaca , one of a chain of Mexican street food eating places that to be honest I had not heard of before. There are branches across London and England, there is even a branch in Bristol!

The restaurant on the South Bank, is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels. These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. The team were friendly and welcoming.

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

We started with some home cooked tortilla chips served with freshly made guacamole. The guacamole is made with lime juice, coriander and ripe Hass avocados. The guacamole was lovely and fresh and I really enjoyed the tasty tortilla chips.

There is a wide choice of dishes, the menu is split into nibbles, bigger food and street food. The street food menu is a range of smaller dishes. I went with two dishes, which was perfect for lunch, but if you were hungry you might want to go with three. There are many different choices, including vegetarian. The street food menu is split across market treats, tacos, tostados, taquitos, quesadillas and baja tacos.

My first choice was from the market treats, the scallop and shrimp ceviche at £6.95. A classic Yucatecan ceviche, with fresh orange and lime cured fish, diced cucumber and fresh summer herbs, served with crisp tostadas. This was a wonderful fresh tasting dish of delicious flavours. I could taste the scallop and shrimp in the dish. The crisp tostadas added texture to the dish.

the scallop and shrimp ceviche

For my second choice I went with the Ancho chicken baja tacos at £4.25. These are two corn and flour tortillas inspired by the beaches of baja filled with grilled chicken thighs marinated with sweet and smoky ancho chilli marinade, topped with habanero mayo and jalapeño-pickled carrots.

Ancho chicken baja tacos

As with my other dish this was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. The grilled chicken was moist and full of flavour, not too spicy. I really enjoyed eating this dish.

The dishes we ordered came in a somewhat haphazard order, but that didn’t distract too much from the overall experience.

There is a technological solution to paying the bill via an app, which I guess is great if it works, but it wasn’t working for us, so we paid in the traditional manner.

I really enjoyed the fresh delicious food from Wahaca and would really like to go again.

La Tasca, no hay amor más

Though my plan to celebrate my anniversary with dinner at the Second Floor Bristol, in Harvey Nichols was scuppered by my wife who decided no matter how nice the restaurant looked and how interesting the menu, she didn’t want to have a celebrationary dinner in an upmarket BHS or Primark! Anyway the Second Floor Bristol is a really stupid name for a restaurant. Okay so it’s on the second floor, I get that. It’s in Bristol, I get that. Why though is it named after where it is? Are they so confident about the food and the location, that they don’t think it needs a proper name? Well after my wife turned down this choice of mine, I needed to choose somewhere else.

So having to make a quick decision, I decided on La Tasca. My last few visits have been okay and I do like tapas. The end result wasn’t as good as I remember and certainly I don’t think we’ll go again. It wasn’t awful, it was just okay, nothing special and I do think that the restaurant could have done a lot better.

As it was a Sunday they had their Foolish Feast special, so we went with that. I chose that, partly to be cost effective, but in the main it was easy. I almost laughed at the photograph on the back of the menu, which appeared to be of an authentic Spanish tapas bar and thought, now that would be wonderful, however I knew that in reality the stuff we were going to get would be nice, but it wouldn’t be genuine in the way a proper Spanish tapas bar can be. I wonder why now, why we even went in there…

As we discussed the menu, we both realised that a Greek meze place would probably have been a much better choice, but it was late, we had sat down, we had ordered coffee. A bit too late to do anything then.

La Tasca

The special was £14.95 per person. You start off with the Tabla Especial – to share between two Serrano ham, bread and mixed olives, served with an extra-virgin olive oil & sherry vinegar dip.

Good ham, nice olives and measly amount of bread…. really you needed a bit more bread than you got.

The Paella Valenciana ‘La Tasca’ with chicken, Galician mussels, king prawns, squid, lemon wedges, char-grilled aubergine and peppers; could have been so good, but was let down because it was reheated. As a result the rice was stodgy, the squid was chewy, as were the mussels. I can appreciate that it can’t be easy to cook paella for these kinds of menus, however either do it properly or don’t do it all! Reheating paella is not how it is done in Spain. It kinds of puts me off going to La Tasca and ordering a “proper” paella in case that is a reheated dish. The flavour was okay, but the textures let this dish down.

We ordered one of everything and waited for it to arrive.

This is one dish which really you shouldn’t get wrong, it’s a really simple dish. Patatas Bravas is deep fried potato, with spicy tomato sauce. However they did a bit of a botch job. The potato wasn’t crispy enough and some of it was well undercooked too.

I did enjoy the Albóndigas, beef & pork meatballs, in a rich, slow-cooked tomato sauce. They had good texture, nice flavour and a good sauce. Well it was a good sauce until we worked out that it tasted like the tomato sauce in tinned spaghetti hoops!

I also enjoyed the Croquetas de Pollo. These were hand-crumbed with chicken breast and served with roasted garlic mayonnaise. They were crisp on the outside and lovely and soft on the inside. They melted in the mouth and had a really nice flavour.

The Spinach Tortilla, a spinach omelette served with a spicy red pepper tapenade and roasted garlic mayonnaise was okay, but I did feel it lacked flavour.

Apart from been a little too salty, the Pescado Blanco Frito which was deep-fried white fish, in a special-recipe San Miguel batter, served with homemade paprika & roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon. The batter was crisp and crunchy, but I did feel that the fish needed more natural flavour. You really needed to dip it in the mayonnaise.

As you might expect you couldn’t really mess up the Baby Leaf Green Salad, served with balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil dressing on the side.

Overall there were some really nice dishes that we had at the table and alas there were some that really didn’t work out very well. I think it might be a while before I go to La Tasca again, I really do need to find a proper local Spanish tapas bar.

Chesters

I do wonder why a Mexican themed restaurant is called Chesters?

Regardless of the name, I went there for lunch today and was quite impressed.

I had the house specialty burrito.

A 10″ flour tortilla, crammed with cheese & onion and your choice of filling, served with salsa, sour cream & guacamole, complemented with a Chesters combi salad.

From the choice of fillings I went for the mexican chicken.

I was expecting it to be very spicy, but it wasn’t, it was spiced, but not so spicy to be uncomfortably spicy – as happens in some Mexican chain places I have been to in the past.

The salsa, sour cream and guacamole were nice as they tasted fresh and most certainly did not taste processed or out of a jar.

I thought the side salad was excellent, which was full of interesting salad type things, including shoots, cabbage, potatoes as well as other delicious stuff.

The coffee I had alongside was very nice too.

Overall I did enjoy my meal and thought it was very good value for lunch. My dining colleague enjoyed his risotto.

I would go there again (and more often) alas it is in Worcester and I don’t go there very often!

Cooking Fajita

I do like Mexican and Tex-Mex food, don’t know how authentic my versions are, partly as all I have to compare is with various restaurants I have been to and in the main as I have not been to Mexico!

However the other day I did cook some steak fajita.

I use a hot griddle and get it nice and hot, I don’t oil the pan, I oil the meat.

With the steak, I cut into slices and then mix with some oil and some Cajun spices.

The steak is then placed and cooked on the hot griddle.

After a few minutes I add the onion and pepper (though this time I had no pepper).

Once the steak and onion (and pepper) is cooked, serve.

Fajita

I serve with warm flour tortillas, hot salsa, sour cream and guacamole.