A few years ago we went on a family holiday to Cancun in Mexico. We had a fabulous time, not least enjoying a few rounds of golf. It was the one and only time I’ve been to the country, although I hope it might not be the last. One is obviously never going to replicate the flavour of a country by replacing a transatlantic flight with a one-stop train journey to Camden Road, and doing what I did the other day came nowhere near to accomplishing that, but my visit to a Mexican restaurant quite close to Regent’s Park was nevertheless enjoyable. Also, as you might be able to ascertain from the photo on the home page, they were showing golf in the television!
The Mestizo Mexican Restaurant & Tequila bar, to give it its full name, is located on Hampstead Road (which is nowhere near Hampstead) in London NW1. If you are interested in the mess that the construction of the HS2 rail link out of Euston Station is having, around here is a good place to get a handle on that. The works between Morning Crescent and Robert (seriously!) Street are a hugely noisy distraction, from which the interior of Mestizo provides welcome refuge.
The forerunner to this establishment was El Señor in Soho, opened by the proprietors here, a Mexican couple, Roberto and Marysol Alvarado, in the 1990s. But the rent inexorably went up and they eventually felt forced to leave central London, in due course settling in this spot just north of Euston Road.
First up for me from the fairly wide-ranging menu was queso frito: four breaded and fried chihuahua cheese sticks (I was assured no small dogs were hurt in the preparation of this dish) in a tomato salsa topped with coriander, onion and sesame seeds, served with corn tortillas. The main course you see above: pollo con mole (again no moles, etc), which is shredded chicken cooked in “Mexico’s most famous sauce”, as the menu puts it, which contains no fewer than 25 ingredients, including chocolate. As you can see, it arrived with rice and refried beans.
The chocolate influence on the sauce is not overdone, but it is unarguably there. But then it takes a lot to overwhelm the taste of chocolate. I am far from being a chocoholic but nevertheless I scoffed the lot. Having said that, one could get at the succulent chicken inside while mostly leaving the sauce on the side, so to speak. Put another way, the next time I might go for the campechano chicken (with chorizo) or try one of the beef, lamb or pork dishes. But there will be a next time. And for sure that will be before HS2 gets to wherever is now supposed to be the end of the line.