Tuesday 9 November 2010

Wahaca, Soho

I've long been a hater of sweet potato. They are vile things; floury in texture, overtly sweet in flavour. My eyes widened in fear when Thomasina Miers, of Wahaca and Masterchef fame, ordered us a portion when we visited the new Soho-located branch during its soft launch*.

When they arrived though, they glistened with oil and were generously flicked with salt and coriander. I ppped a chunk in my mouth and... it was nice. It was actually nice. I ate at least three. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

The new place is on the former site of The Slug and Lettuce, a soulless space of a pub where I've endured many leaving parties. In its new guise, it's airy and colourful, and even has a downstairs tequila bar. I have no doubt it will be just as popular as its original Covent Garden branch, which often has queues snaking out of the door. We kicked off with a hibiscus margarita; fine enough, but far tastier was the tamarind version. Nice and sour, with an edge of spicy sugar garnishing the glass.

Tamales are made with masa harina, traditionally bound into a dough with lard, and then steamed or boiled in corn husks or banana leaves. After we'd released the tamale from it's corn husk sleeve we were instructed to drench it with the accompanying mole sauce; this was no glossy monstrosity of a sauce sickly decorating a shoe-like tortilla, oh no - this sauce was smoky, complex and sweet, enveloping the soft pillowy tamale nicely.

Mackerel tostadas were startlingly cold but none the worse for it. Served atop crisp corn discs, the fish was fresh, the dressing spiked with lime.

Pork torta was a toasted white bun, piled with pork pibil on one side and guacamole with shredded leaves and onions on the other. We slopped the two together messily for the ultimate sandwich. They'd do well to work out a way to get this to take away; the Soho media types would be all over this like a rash.

We finished up with a few desserts, the best of all being the churros with hot chocolate. The batter was slightly salty which worked brilliantly well dusted with the cinnamon and dunked in the sweet sugar.

Wahaca doesn't take bookings. I'm sure soon enough we'll see the Soho streets lined with hungry faces, what with the no-booking policy at Busaba Eathai a few doors down, and Polpetto on the street parallel.

*free food, drinks half price

Wahaca opens officially on Wednesday 10th November.


80 Wardour Street
London W1F 0TF

Tel: 020 7734 0195


Mr Noodles said...

It's funny how quite a few boozers in town have become places to eat in the last few years. e.g. Byron@Intrepid Fox, Les Deux Salons (ex-Pitcher & Piano) and now this branch of Wahaca. By and large, this is a good thing as none of those boozers was much cop.

PDH said...

I really enjoyed the food last night, you'll see my peice go up tomorrow. Also... Thomasina is actually quite the cutie in real life.. didn't expect that :^P

Krista said...

Oh how sad am I to miss this opening too! Arrggh!

Like a rash...cracking me up!

Unknown said...

Authentic or not, I've always enjoyed stopping off for a bit of Mexican street food at the Covent Gdn Wahaca. Those churros are divine! I have a similarly tricky relationship with the sweet potato: hopefully it'll still be on the menu when I visit. Lovely write up.

catty said...

SHE ATE SWEET POTATO!!!!! *yay for baby steps!!*

Chris Pople said...

There's always room for somewhere like Wahaca. I'd take this over a bloody Slug & Lettuce any day of the week, anyway.

Luiz Hara said...

I had the most fantastic meal at their Westfield Branch last year, so pleased to hear of this new opening in Soho though. Thanks!

Luiz @ The London Foodie