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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Wahaca. Which now means yum.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of a unique culinary experience. So good was it, that I would wager it won't stay unique for long, as good ideas in restaurant-land spread fast. But for one day, walking into Wahaca in Chandos Place, I felt a bit like Lucy in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - the first lucky child to stumble across Narnia.
Comparing myself to Lucy does a gross injustice to my guide and general inspiration in all things eatable, Dizzy Ostrom, without whom I would have remained entirely ignorant of Wahaca, not to mention its location, Chandos Place, which quietly occupies a nondescript middle-ground somewhere between Covent Garden and Charing Cross. Dizzy had heard the buzz about Wahaca and mobilized us into a small expeditionary force to test its virtues. Just as well she did. For one thing, Mexican food has never tickled my tastebuds particularly, so in normal circumstances I wouldn't have gone out of my way to try this place. And secondly, as Wahaca is down a long flight of stairs, there was no chance I would have wandered past and glimpsed its supercool decor or been tempted by the lush foodstuffs being rushed out of its kitchens.
Instead, I walked in blind, zero expectations and only a rumbling tummy to challenge my impartiality.
Wahaca's website - - talks a lot about 'street food'. Don't let the idea of half-cooked bacteria-fermenting dishes simmering in a bin lid on some dirty street put you off. This food is street as in really, really cool. I had the 'Sonora Salad', which involved sliced avocado, grilled chicken, cos lettuce and green rice in a bowl made of a giant tortilla.

(Dizzy in Wahaca)

My fellow expeditionaries Dizzy, Clare and Greg chose a selection of dishes from the street food menu, including chorizo quesillada, flaked mackerel tostada, pork pibil taco and sweetcorn on the cob with chilli, lime and creme fraiche. Yum-my. We also had the mandatory tortilla with homemade guacamole to start, and were each gifted with a complimentary tequila and virgin mary by our waiter, due to the fact that Friday had been the Day of the Dead and therefore (initially confusingly) a celebratory time. In keeping with the good spirits of the place, if it hadn't been lunchtime, I would have certainly been tempted to sample the restaurant's delicious-looking mojito. But by holding back on Saturday, at least we have a pressing excuse to return a.s.a.p. for an evening outing.

Me, looking quite besotted with my salad in a giant-tortilla; greg enjoying the virgin mary.

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