Summary: Poor service and disappointing food - less of Mexican, more of a Mexican't.
I would love to go to Mexico, but in the midst of a double dip recession you need to make compromises, therefore a good Mexican restaurant will be as close as I can get for now.
We opted for The Mariachi restaurant on Victoria street, it was surprisingly quiet for a Friday night, at least this meant we would get our food quickly and could be exposed to some fantastic service (or so we thought).
We assumed the menu was for lunch as there were so few options, however this was not the case and we concluded it was better for a restaurant to excel in a few dishes rather than serve a wide selection of mediocre meals.
To help with the ordering process we ordered a couple of margaritas:
It turns out that tequila does not always make you happy, the cocktail was very strong and far too bitter, imagine chomping down on some nettles and you wouldn’t be far off the experience.
Back to the menu, we settled on nachos to share for starter followed by enchiladas and soft tacos (both chicken) for main, it didn’t take long for the nachos to arrive and at first glance they looked pretty good, although the sour cream was a bit excessive:
Our initial opinion on the nachos was fairly positive, however this may have had something to do with the level of hunger we were experiencing rather than the flavours on offer. The top layer was nice enough, the pico de gallo was fresh, but could have used a kick rather than a nudge, the dish was so mild we resorted to fighting over any chillies that we uncovered.
One of the things I love about mexican food is the contrasting flavours and textures, spicy salsa against sour cream or hot melted cheese and cool guacamole.
Sadly, there was no contrast to be found in our nachos, the sour cream would have been perfect to put out a fire but the only hot thing on our table was the candle. After the primary layer was consumed we were met with the nemesis of nachos, unmelted cheese, there wasn’t a great deal of it but this should be avoided at all costs. We made an assumption that guacamole would have made an appearance, it would have been good to have tried this restaurant’s take on the classic dip, its presence was sorely missed.
Overall the starter was a bit of a let down, but entirely edible.
When collecting our plate the waiting staff showed no interest in getting any feedback, we were sitting with two empty glasses and were asked at no stage if everything was ok with the starter, nor were we asked if we would like any more drinks. On such a quiet night you would expect better service than this, a customer should not be made to feel as if they are an inconvenience.
It didn’t take long for our main course to arrive, the chef clearly has a thing for little white lines:
Both meals came with a side of rice and refried beans, these were served extra bland, but not by request.
In essence the two meals were identical, although my enchiladas were rolled up and covered in the colour orange. This ranchero sauce was beyond mild and added nothing to the dish, I even resorted to using salt in a last ditch attempt to add some kind of oral sensation.
Again, nobody approached our table to see if we were enjoying our food, perhaps they had already tried this on a previous occasion and received negative feedback. I was keen to get some extra spice and tried to get the waiting staff’s attention, after eating half my meal I was finally able to ask for some chilli sauce, however this did not arrive until I had almost cleared my plate. Thankfully the sauce was so tasteless that it wouldn’t have helped anyway, yes it had a kick, but I suspect it was nothing more than tabasco in a pot.
Both meals were supposed to be served in corn tortillas, however I know a flour tortilla when I see/eat one.
The meal was very disappointing and came in at £50 (including two margaritas and two beers), but at least the restaurant nailed the ambience, Red Red Wine by UB40 – a Mexican classic.
In summary, less of Mexican, more of a Mexican’t.