A Cantina Laredo opened in London last week. Let me say that more slowly for those of you who do not understand the full ramifications of that sentence. Cantina. Laredo. London. It was a literally an answer to the prayers of these two ex-pat Texans. We first heard about this around Christmas of 2008 but it had been delayed and finally it was here and open for delicious business. I want to say that we went to a soft opening event that was more of a trial run for the staff than anything and that should be taken into consideration.
Below is something that I have not gotten at any Mexican restaurant in the UK but that I love so much that the sight of it brought tears to my eyes and made me forget to take a picture until we were almost done. Bask in the glow of Tableside Guacamole.
It was made with all fresh ingredients and absolutely divine. To be extremely picky there wasn’t enough lime juice and the tomatoes weren’t diced finely enough and the avocado should have been mushed a bit more, but chances are high that our waiter did not know what was in guacamole before his training started so I feel some of that will improve in time.
As you know, chips and salsa can make or break a restaurant for me- see the title of this blog. The chips were perfectly adequate (I prefer them so thin and crispy that you can see through them). There were two salsas and the roasted tomato easily beat all the salsas I have tried over here. But the star of the chips and salsa set up was the warm tomatillo salsa. Lots of flavor with a nice subtle amount of heat that was perfect with the chips.
Mom had the beef quesadillas and they were lovely. Good tortilla, good cheese, good beef. Pretty much everything needed for a good quesadilla.
We ordered this salad because the description in the menu made it sound like the III Forks salad that is named after and originated in Cantina Laredo’s sister restaurant III Forks. III Forks salad should be listed as an addictive drug and there should be a recovery program. This salad was close- the blue cheese, candied pecans and granny smith apples were nice but I imagine that it would be like trying to date regular men after dating George Clooney. The man may be perfectly nice but you’ve had Clooney.
Mike had the pork tacos and they were a bit dry and would have benefited from a sauce or sour cream for dipping. Once again, the dryness is something that could possibly be remedied by a higher turnover. Their rice was very good and tasted like real Mexican rice with lots of flavor and was not dry at all.
That, my friends is a picture of the best beef fajitas available in London. Period. I order fajitas both because I love them and because it is such a good way to judge a restaurant. They are deceptively simple and demand high quality ingredients and I was not disappointed. The beef was flavorful and not overcooked (the cardinal sin of fajita-ry). The only issues I had were ones of preference- the tortillas were white corn and I prefer flour; and I like the onions to have been cooked down a bit more.
We finished with the brownie and ice cream in a skillet with brandy sauce. Y. U. M.
Overall, the food needs a bit of polishing but it is light years above any other Tex-Mex offering in London. Cantina Laredo seems to just get it like no other place gets it and it shows in little ways like the fresh tortillas and the real margaritas and the refilling of the chip baskets. They also seem committed to good service which I think is excellent because it is so hard to find. We will still make Mexican food our first stop when we hit Dallas, but this will make the time between so much easier.