A person of Mexico’s best cultural exports, aside from Frida Kahlo and el Dia de los Muertos, is unquestionably the country’s food stuff. But even with its diversity and complexity, quite a few of us know the cuisine as hard tacos, flaccid substantial-road burritos, drained Outdated El Paso kits or much more debased continue to: Tex-Mex.
One chef traveling the flag for genuine Mexican food items in all its complexity is Santiago Lastra of KOL, the only Michelin-starred Mexican cafe in the United kingdom.
The richness of Mexican food stuff has extensive been admired by food stuff writers such as Diana Kennedy, who spent a long time investigating and chronicling Mexican delicacies. Nonetheless, her perform is improved recognized in the US, and breaking down the prevalent misconception that Mexican delicacies is affordable, cheerful and a person-note is even now a perform in development listed here in the British isles.
Lastra is in a very good place to support travel the Mexican reexamination. He will come with remarkable pedigree, owning worked in superior-profile roles which include at San Sebastian’s Mugaritz and Hija de Sanchez in Copenhagen, just before accepting an invitation to return to his homeland and launch Noma Mexico in 2017. Lastra became Rene Redzepi’s proper-hand guy, spending a great 12 months researching and sourcing elements from across the place in advance of the world’s most lauded fashionable restaurant opened its pop-up to rave reviews.
Right after that practical experience, Lastra returned to the United kingdom to open KOL in London as a showcase not only for Mexican foods tradition and heritage, but also to demonstrate its evolving character. The substantially-predicted opening led to Michelin recognition, which any person who has dined below will know is well deserved.
In part, this is simply because the experience of going to KOL is concurrently incredibly higher-conclude and solely everyday. The cafe is arranged so that every single table has a look at of the buzzing open kitchen, positioned in the centre of the room. Below, cooks in ochre T-shirts and black crocs carry out the dance of an elite kitchen, arranging plates, cooking on the exposed burners, and including very last-moment thrives.
A menu of inventive marvels
The menu gives six-, eight- and nine-system tasting menus, with place for couple possibilities, even though there are optional additions you may possibly like to get up or exclusions out there if you have any nutritional choices. Irrespective of what you pick, the food normally opens with a welcome broth, in our case a deliciously olive-coloured brew with a hint of fire in the kind of scotch bonnet and scented with douglas fir.
Our next program starred squid, sliced to present the texture of coconut flesh. A intelligent sleight of hand that our waiter informed us was meant to convey the emotion of taking in coconut on a Tulum beach. A lot of of the programs evoke elements of Lastra’s household in this way – with a tiny story, historic depth or flight of Mexican fantasy to ponder as you masticate.
From there, a langoustine taco paired with smoked chilli and sea buckthorn arrived finish with the crustacean’s head for you to squeeze more than your taco ahead of ingesting. Not for the squeamish, but with totally delectable benefits.
Other creative marvels stick to such as a wealthy, chocolatey mole served with cecina-encouraged roasted purple carrot. But even though the dish is unquestionably clever, Lastra’s inventiveness is constantly in service of flavour, instead than remaining deployed to develop showy Instagram bait.
The highlight of the food nonetheless was the complete grilled octopus with sweet bone marrow, which cracked like creme brulee. It arrived with scissors to tackle the beautifully cooked tentacle, and a KOL-branded pouch keeping warm tortillas. A dish so moreish it experienced me planning my return even prior to the food was completed.
Considering the fact that launching KOL, Lastra has been awarded GQ’s Ideal Chef 2021, KOL has been recognised as a person of the prime 20 restaurants in the Uk in the Countrywide Cafe Awards, and amount 73 in the planet, within just the leading 100 of acclaimed international cafe checklist The World’s 50 Most effective Restaurants. A deserving ad for the legitimate breadth and depth of Mexican delicacies.
6 courses for £90, or insert an additional £65 for paired beverages or £95 for paired Mezcal. 9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, London W1H 7BA kolrestaurant.com