Modern Mexican – Cantina Laredo
Family owned and operated restaurants are becoming more and more rare now in London, especially in the central spots of Covent Garden (last one I visited was probaly Cafe Maramia). Operated by the Ginsbery family, Cantina Laredo is an exception to this rule – looking to offer diners an experience of modern Mexican cuisine. This is a journey across the diverse regions of Mexico, sharing and tasting some incredible flavors from their wide ranging menu selection. It is atmospheric and definitely not your usual Mexican chain.
The menu itself is quite extensive, with four main sections plus accompaniments. The start of the menu offers 8 different types of guacamole, something very few places in London can claim to do! You can hardly do 8 types of hummus (Cafe Loren does do a large selection of Shakshouka though)! All the guacamole comes with warm corn tortilla chips and range from the classic to with Chicarron, Cangrejo or Chapulines. You would have to read the description carefully under each to really see what you are getting. Some come with really interesting ingredients like pineapple or even crunchy grasshopper!
I skipped the guacamoles and went straight for the entradas, with my eye out for something crunchy. This section ranges from mexican cheeses to cerviches and quesidillas to a tiger prawn tempura. I opted for the Chicharron de Calamar – crispy fried baby squid that was crunchy and matched really well with the sunset salsa with thyme. There is this kick of chilli from the creamy sauce that kind of surprises you. At first it might be a bit weird, but the more I ate, the better it tasted.
Brochetas & Tacos
Tacos is a classic Mexican dish and there are 6 different options to choose from – pork belly, prawns, rib eye, duck, chicken and mushrooms. You can’t really think of anything that is missing. There are also a few brochetas to choose from. These are grilled skewers that came in portions of three. The Brochetas de Arrachera was a skewer of skirt steak, marinated with a sweeet Mexican soy and chile de arbol. You will immediately taste the juicy beef flavours as you bite down and then this strong spicy flavour if you decide to have the chillis in between the meats. The tangy sensation really fits well with the mouthful of beef. A great combination.
The larger plates to order are supposedly more classic main course dishes. 270 grams of rib eye to Lamb cutlets and fajitas. The Costillas de Cerdo al Guajilo was a large rack of baby back pork ribs, beautifully cooked with a guajillo glaze topped with scallions and fried leeks. It was quite a sight! Imagine crunchy pork but juicy and succulent as you pull it off the rack of bones. This is one of those dishes that you get your hands dirty. Dig in and clean up those bones! Its a real nice dish that is not too sticky (a lot of ribs gets your hands way too messed up) and that bit of chilli is just lingering around again, just enough to go with that juicy bit of meat!
A perfect acommpany with the ribs is the Esparragos al Grill, all grilled in skewers and topped with this lush yellow habanero butter and salt. A great way to be ‘healthy’.
All in All
Modern mexican done incredibly well. Definitely not your typical taco or burrito joint. Incredibly delicious food, great service and an unbelievable selection for a menu. A perfect place to go with a few friends and try a lot of different parts of Mexico!
Also published on Medium.