Sophisticated top-class Mexican in Mayfair
Category : Bar, Restaurant
| Cuisine : South American
Address : One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, Mayfair, London , W1J 7QY, UNITED KINGDOM
Web : www.ellacanta.com
Opening Times : Mon-Fri: 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm; Sat–Sun: 11.30am–2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm
Closest Tube : Hyde Park Corner
The hunger for Mexican cuisine has been steadily burgeoning in London over the past decade, but has primarily kept itself cloistered in the realm of streetfood. Not so any longer, as one of the Mexico's most celebrated chefs has set up shop in the Intercontinental Park Lane to give the well-heeled denizens of W1 a taste of just how sophisticated south of the border can be. Martha Ortiz's restaurant in Mexico City - Dulce Patria - has elbowed out its place in the Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants List. We visited Ella Canta to see if she could achieve the same in London.
Ella Canta translates from Spanish as "she sings" and encapsulates the mission of the restaurant, which is to capture the feminine spirit of the chef and her approach to Mexican food. The recherche design of the restaurant, orchestrate by David Collins studio, similarly reflects this. Spread out over the ground floor of the Intercontinental restaurant, the ochre-hued paintjob pays homage to the adobe ubiquitous throughout the country. There are plenty of Mexican artefacts and objets d'art spread throughout, with splashes of colour abounding in giant, vividly green potted plants.
Colour is a trope carried throughout Ortiz's cooking. Her first tasting menu is monikered 'Painted Black', with each of its courses carrying an inky colour. We settled in with a pair of delicious margaritas that were a different breed that what you'd find at your local taco shop - more elegant than alcoholic. As we sipped we were welcomed with an eye-popping array of starters. Guacamole dusted with ricotta and cerise-coloured pomegranate seeds was topped off with a golden, finger-sized grasshopper. A pale green tamal Mexicano encased a butter-soft pocket of carnitas, topped off with yolk-coloured queso and brilliantly white cream. A pyramid of pulpo was festooned with burnt onion and smoked chile sauce.
A marinated fillet of beef served amongst a black chilchilo sauce with ashes and aubergine was a smoky tour de force, whilst cochinita de pibil with achiote and a black bean salad was the best we've ever sampled, much more refined than what we'd even tasted in the dish's spiritual home: Valladolid on the Yucatan Peninsula. We wrapped our meal up with what may very well be the best churros on the face of this planet, served with little ramekins of molten chocolate and caramel. To be frank, we were quite smitten with the beguiling flavours on display at Ella Canta. It has certainly stepped the game up for Mexican cuisine in the capital.