Ella Canta: Who runs the world?
Have I mentioned that I'm a bit of a Mexico fan? It had me at tacos and tequila, but throw in the country's infectious thirst for life, and I was a goner. Unsurprisingly, choosing where to honeymoon was one of the easiest decisions of 'wedmin', and I'm off there now to savour the fruits (or agave spirits) of our labour. As I write on the flight to Mexico City, I’m taking inspiration for this post from my awaiting destination; namely its Day of the Dead traditions.
Meanwhile back in London, there's a pretty hot taqueria buzz in the capital, of which I feel Corazon is still at the helm. Side note: for crying out loud, GO if you've not yet been. Latest opening on the scene, Ella Canta, promises us something a bit more polished, which I'm not suggesting is always a good thing. Yes it's basically in a hotel lobby and yes it's on stuffy Park Lane, but we're still hungry to give it an ‘aul whirl.
Girl boss Chef patron Marta Ortiz knows her way around a media interview, writes cookbooks like they’re going out of fashion, and magics up dishes (enter, pink mole) from her Mexico City restaurant Dulce Patria; No.48 in the world. To tie in with Dia de los Muertos, Ortiz has created a tasting menu to honour those who are no longer with us. Black is weaved into dishes as a means of celebration, rather than harking on darker times.
Food highlights include seabass crudo with black aguachile and the-right-side-of-charred quail. Comforting tamales, creamy corn-stuffed pillows, are like a warm hug on a frosty morning. Tumeric sorbet is easily forgettable, but the corn ash pudding can come round for supper any day of the week. You can serve me all the posh Mexican fare you like, however few things beat deep fried tacos, which come as snacks at the beginning. Hurrah for more cheesy pockets of gooey gorgeousness in life!
Cocktails are on point, as is glassware and gizmos on the side. Lady in Black, a properly punchy and very drinkable, margarita scoops first place for me. There's also a superb range of mezcals to discover. Order a tasting flight and it pretty much comes with a Ferris wheel and mariachi band to boot. YASSS, now this is what I'm talking about.
Before tonight, black conjured up thoughts of cycling home on cold winter’s nights, sinfully soulless restaurants, and generally dark times. But when I chat with Ortiz, she lights up when telling me about her family's Dia de Los Muertos traditions. So even on the darkest day, you know there really is light at the end of the tunnel.
In summary, Ella Canta is where portions are small but flavours are big and spicing is bold. I won't do the tasting menu again, but I will go back for all my favourite bits washed down with all the mezcal.
Five Very Kerri things about Ella Canta
- Bringing new Mexican vibes to London
- A non-hotel-like restaurant in a hotel
- Powerhouse girl boss vibes from Marta Ortiz
- Cheesy pillows of lovliness
- Mezcal tasting flights