There’s really no disputing that London is one of the most eclectic culinary capitals of the world. From Taiwanese steamed buns to Sri Lankan hoppers, Peruvian pleasures to the food of modern day Jerusalem, we’re living in a city which would seem to have it all.
Except there’s been one glaring exception for many years now – a Mexican fiesta.
Look, I’m not saying there have been no good Mexican restaurants in London – just that they’ve generally been quite far and few between.
So the arrival of Molé Taco Bar earlier this year has been heralded as a welcome addition, especially given it’s fantastic location. Tucked away behind the bustle of Oxford Street, it’s on the edge of the lovely Marylebone village.
And if the most recent Taste of London festival is anything to go by, Molé is all foodies can taco about at the moment… so I was quick to accept an invitation for a full-blown menu tasting over dinner with my fellow foodie compatriots!
We started with fresh guacamole of course – mountains of it, seasoned with lime, a pinch of sea salt and pomegranate for a lovely crunch. A pure delight for avo-aficionados like me.
Also very much in order? Heady cocktails. I loved my guava pisco sour – a frothy mix of pisco, guava compote, bitters and lemon juice…
From the “small and significant” options on the menu, the others tucked into plates of crispy baby squid peppered with black ash salt and Serrano cream…
… And got into the Mexican mood with quesadillas stuffed with chorizo and potatoes.
My veggie option saw soft cremini mushroom neatly folded within tortilla wraps – personally, I found the flavours a tad muted with this one, as I’m firmly of the thinking, “more is more” when it comes to Mexican food.
But the addition of sour cream and a touch of the hot sauces that arrived alongside, definitely went a long way in adding desired textures.
Next arrived a STUNNING array of tacos – each beautifully presented, open-faced on a corn tortilla.
You can only imagine how snap-happy the bloggers at the table were – all the non-blogger plus-ones were mighty amused by the serious turn that this #foodtography session soon took. But you know… #bloggerlife.
Varieties sampled included chipotle beef short rib served with sweet potato hay, radish and jalapeno; the “baja fish taco” – a crisp shark fillet tempura with chipotle mayo and jalapeno slaw; and “Cochinita Pibil” – pulled pork with micro coriander, pickled onion, and avocado.
And for this vegetarian – grilled nopal cactus, Queso Oaxaca and quinoa.
To telepathically preempt your questions in turn:
1) Yes, nopal cactus really is… well, a cactus plant, also known as a prickly pear. It’s grown and consumed widely in Mexico, where you can find it added to a number of dishes from salads and tacos to meat and eggs. Loaded with antioxidants and cholesterol-reducing properties, it’s actually considered a superfood!
2) Queso Oaxaca (pronounced WA-HA-CA, like the eponymous London chain of restaurants) is a Hispanic-style, semi-soft white cheese made from cow’s milk.
3) Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is – oh wait. We all know this drill.
I found the natural sweetness of the nopal to be deftly balanced by the slightly salty, almost savoury texture of the cheese… But again, I had to throw in a generous drizzle of the medium-spicy hot sauce for that extra punch.
It’s actually quite handy that the hot sauces are served separately, they range from mild to very fiery – so you set the course of the path you’d like to take.
I have to say that it was altogether a much more exotic proposition compared to what I’m usually used to seeing in my tacos. And judging by what everyone else had, different is generally the name of the game at this eatery.
My dinner companions also had a peek at Molés nude burrito show (usually served at lunch until 4pm).
On the evening, the succulent beef short rib chipotle and Dirty Cochinita (pulled pork) were on display, served on a bed or rice (you can also go for quinoa) with black beans, guac, lettuce and freshly chopped pico de gallo.
It was great to see a skinnier alternative as well – as with the tacos, those on a more virtuous path can skip the tortilla for a lettuce cup instead.
As you might gather, the evening was turning into quite the feast, with plump roast corn-fed chicken Molé joining in on the fiesta…
But it were the side dishes that really stole the show, from garlicky corn on the cob to the quinoa salad, subtly laced in a citrusy-dressing with a kick of spice and topped with pomegranates for that moreish crunch.
And then there were these gorgeous patatas bravas, perfectly crisp-skinned, shielding a softer centre, while smothered in lashings of chipotle mayo. They may have been more Spanish than Mexican, but my gosh – they were incredible.
The buzzing ambience and trendy tone of the place – with it’s Day of the Dead skulls and Frida Kahlo mural decorating the wall – added much to the our spirited experience…
… All in all, it was a fabulously fun evening enjoyed with familiar faces, like the wonderful Alexandra (aka AKBoogie) and Emma of KK Comms, not to mention that I could finally put a face to many-a-familiar name, including the lovely Jess of the expat blog Jess on Thames, Lauren of Food n Fizz and Ashleigh of the luxury blog, Luxuria Lifestyle!
We definitely had lots to taco ’bout.
Molé Taco Bar, 16 Picton Place,Marylebone, London W1U 1BP
I was hosted by Molé Taco Bar, but as always I hog full credit for my opinions.