Tuesday 1 September 2015

Restaurant review: Wahaca, St Paul's, London

Before we booked our holiday to Mexico, my boyfriend had never eaten much Mexican food – and I wasn’t much more familiar than the cuisine than him. I’d only been to Mexican restaurants a couple of times and aside from making fajitas and enchiladas at home I don’t really cook Mexican food either.
As we were going to be travelling around as part of a tour group, I knew we often wouldn’t have much – or any – choice of restaurants. It turned out that we had set menus a few times as well, so it was lucky I had introduced my boyfriend to a few dishes in advance.
My birthday was right before our holiday so I took the opportunity to get some of my friends together for a birthday meal at Wahaca. Wahaca is the phonetic spelling of Oaxaca, a state in Mexico that is known for its food; masterchef winner Thomasina Miers set up a restaurant by that name in 2007 focusing on Mexican street food. The chain now has a handful of London locations plus one in Cardiff, but you can’t book a table for dinner in any of the London restaurants apart from St. Paul’s. That suited me as a lot of my friends work in the City so it was central for all of us – the restaurant is actually upstairs in the One New Change shopping centre but it feels like a proper restaurant, not a shopping mall food court.

The street food idea means the bulk of the menu is small plates with the suggestion of ordering a few per person. There are some larger main courses as well, but as we were a large group we decided to share the street food between us. We did a quick calculation and decided to order one of everything – not something you often get the chance to say to a server!

Among the tacos I particularly liked the pork pibil, which is slow-cooked marinaded pork with pink pickled onions, served in a toasted tortilla. The tostadas were open tortillas topped with different things like chicken Caesar or black beans; I loved the sweet potato and feta cheese taquito, which was a rolled-up tortilla. Quesadillas are toasted tortilla sandwiches, filled with things like chicken and cheese. Each dish is priced around £3-£4 and usually contains three of each item so they are easy to share. It was great being able to try different flavours together and to learn the meaning of terms that are usedl I was pleased that the food wasn’t too spicy either. I also sampled a couple of cocktails which were very good!

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