Revolucion De Cuba

July 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Revolucion De Cuba is one of those places I used to be obsessed with, to the point where I discovered that you really can have too much of a good thing. Consequently, I had to take a bit of a break from the Mappin Street venue formerly known as Buddha Bar/Bai Hoi.

But after stuffing my face with a tonne of tacos courtesy of Revolucion De Cuba’s all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, I’ve rediscovered why I liked Revolucion De Cuba so much in the first place. So I was really excited to attend the launch of their new menu, together with some other Sheffield bloggers and newsy types.

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say that Revolucion De Cuba know how to make a special occasion fun, as we arrived to find our table decked out with funky pineapple glasses and straw hats. Cheesy it may be, but I love this kind of stuff.

Revolucion de Cuba hats and glasses

Glasses donned and selfies snapped, it was time to kick things off with a cocktail from Revolucion De Cuba’s ginormous drinks menu. Even though I had every intention of branching out and trying something new, after reading the menu from front to back I still couldn’t resist ordering the exact same thing I always go for.

Revolucion de Cuba pornstar rumtini

I just love the tartness of this Pornstar Rumtini, as it’s fruity without being too sweet, plus it comes with a shot of sparkling wine on the side, which can only be a good thing.

Since we’re smack bang in the middle of a heatwave, my dining companion opted for a frozen Banana Daiquiri (£7.25). This cocktail comes with a chocolate flake, and the daiquiri itself is so thick and icy that it can support said flake without any issues.

Revolucion De Cuba Banana Daiquiri

This banana daiquiri is pretty much a dream for anyone with a sweet tooth, and it’d make the perfect, refreshing pudding after you’ve finished stuffing yourself with spicy Cuban grub.

As we sipped our cocktails, we were treated to a trio of moreish nibbles: banana chips (£1.50), pork crackling, (£1.50) and spicy mixed nuts (£1.50).

Revolucion De Cuba nibbles

These nibbles are great if you fancy something to crunch on while you peruse the main menu, particularly the pork crackling which is something a bit different from your bog-standard bar snacks.

Onto the hot food, and Revolucion De Cuba brought out lots of tapas, sides and mains for the whole table to share, so brace yourselves because we have lots to cover.

First up was a plate of Smoky Aubergine Quesadillas (£5.00). These quesadillas were packed with lots of yummy melted cheese, and came with a very fresh and homemade-looking tomato and onion salsa.

Revolucion de Cuba quesadillas

For £5.00 this is a filling tapas dish that I can imagine eating on its own as a snack or even as a starter when I’m feeling particularly hungry.

For the meat eaters, there was a main course of Havana Chicken Salad (£9.50). The chicken was tender, juicy and nicely-seasoned but what really caught my eye was the colourful side salad.

Revolucion de Cuba havana chicken salad

This vibrant salad consisted of quinoa, green lentils, peppers, carrots, tomato, cucumber, black beans, edamame beans, yellow beetroot and leaves, finished off with a homemade spinach and kale dressing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a salad that looks quite this good!

Sometimes I feel like restaurants use side salads just to fill up the plate. Not so with Revolucion De Cuba! They’ve clearly gone all out to create a side salad you’ll actually be excited to eat.

This side salad appears in several other main courses and you can even order a ‘Cuban Salad’ on its own, which might just be one of the few occasions I’d actually consider ordering a salad in a restaurant.

This Cuban salad made a repeat appearance at our table, as part of a Baked Halloumi (£11) main course.

Revolucion de Cuba baked halloumi

This main is essentially a super-sized portion of halloumi, marinated in soy and ginger, and then served in a banana leaf with a helping of that awesome Cuban salad.

I’m mad about halloumi anyway, so I was always going to enjoy a main that’s mostly just a massive piece of halloumi, but the soy and ginger marinade gave this particular piece of halloumi a powerful, salty and very distinctive taste. This is easily the best halloumi I’ve ever had.

If you’ve got a soft spot for halloumi or you just love strong, salty flavours, then you need to try Revolucion De Cuba’s baked halloumi. You won’t be disappointed!

Next up was everyone’s favourite Tex-Mex snack: nachos. These Nachos Del Sol (£5.50) take crunchy tortilla chips and cover them in black beans, guacamole, homemade Roquito and Manchego cheese sauce, and chunks of mango.

Revolucion de Cuba nachos

I can’t remember ever having fruit on nachos before, but the mango added a welcome sweetness to this otherwise very savoury snack. I might just have to try sprinkling some mango on top of my own nachos in the future.

The nachos were followed by yet more tapas, in the form of some Iberico Ham Croquettes (£5.50).

Revolucion de Cuba Iberico Ham Croquettes

Apparently Iberico is a special kind of Spanish ham that’s salted and air dried for 12 months (thanks, Google) which explains why these croquettes had such a strong, salty flavour. The Iberico croquettes are particularly nice with a dollop of the accompanying garlic aioli dip.

I was already feeling pretty stuffed, but it turned out there was even more food for us to sample. An entire platter of it, in fact.

Revolucion de Cuba mojo chicken

This was roughly the point where I started to wish I’d been more restrained around that baked halloumi.

The first plate on our platter was sticky glazed Chorizo in a rich red wine and honey sauce (£6.00). This is hearty, comforting tapas with a slight kick to it, and I can imagine this really hitting the spot during the colder months.

Also on our super-sized platter was a side of sweet potato fries (£3.00). Like the halloumi, sweet potato fries are something I love anyway, so I knew I was going to enjoy these – but they were even better than I was expecting!

These sweet potato fries were perfectly cooked: crispy and nicely-salted on the outside, but fluffy and sweet on the inside. They also went really well with Revolucion De Cuba’s homemade rum sauce, which has a nice kick to it, not to mention the kind of freshness you simply can’t get from a supermarket-bought bottle.

Revolucion De Cuba rum sauce

The final side on our mega-platter was House Rice (£2.50). This is something I loved the last time I visited Revolucion De Cuba and it was every bit as good as I remembered, particularly the topping of finely-chopped, crispy fried onions, which were incredibly moreish.

At £2.50 this is another fantastic side dish. Revolucion De Cuba are really getting their sides spot on at the moment.

But the main event was an enormous Half Chicken in Mojo Sauce (£11, with two side dishes). This is a massive portion of nicely-cooked chicken, but if you’re seriously hungry then apparently you can go one step further and order an entire chicken!

This was when the lovely Revolucion De Cuba staff broke the news that there was even more food to come. In fact, we hadn’t even had our main course yet (!) as everyone would be getting the chance to prepare their own burrito.

But what’s the perfect thing to do before trying your hand at a new culinary skill?

Shots, of course!

Revolucion de Cuba rum tasting

Okay so this isn’t as heinous as it looks. This was actually a quick rum tasting session where we got to sample three different rums from Revolucion De Cuba’s extensive collection.

Despite the fact that I’m not a massive fan of drinking anything neat, this turned out to be lots of fun. This is the second rum tasting I’ve attended, and both times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the range of rum that’s out there, from the painful-to-drink, to the dangerously easy drinking.

Speaking of painful, the first rum (Matusalem Platino) was so harsh that finishing a single measure felt like a major accomplishment. Thankfully it was all uphill from here as the second rum (Ron de Jeremy) was smoother, and the third rum (Gosling’s Black Seal) had a faintly butterscotch aftertaste that I enjoyed so much, I could actually see myself drinking this again!

If you’re interested in checking out what rums Revolucion De Cuba have to offer, you’ll find a complete list at the end of their drinks menu.

Okay, so three measures of rum dispatched and obviously the time was right to try and roll the perfect burrito. This went predictably…..wrong, but at least all the ingredients that went into my sloppily-rolled burrito were good!

Revolucion de Cuba burrito ingredients

In the end, my burrito consisted of refried beans, garlic mushrooms, fried veggies and spring onions, plus generous helpings of sour cream, grated cheese and house rice, so it wasn’t a million miles away from Revolucion De Cuba’s own Mushroom, Bean and Spinach Burrito (£9).

When it came to wrapping my concoction, I discovered that it’s much harder to roll the perfect burrito than you might think, which is why I’m not going to show you a photo of my handiwork. Instead, here’s a photo of my dining companion’s chicken burrito, for the simple reason that they did a much better job than me.

Revolucion De Cuba burrito

And thus concluded our Revolucion De Cuba feast. I left feeling like I’d eaten Revolucion De Cuba’s entire menu, but after consulting their website I realise that I’d barely even scratched the surface.

Revolucion De Cuba’s mammoth menu features tapas, sides, burritos, half and full chickens cooked in a variety of spices, hamburgers, a “fast and fresh” Rapido Lunch menu, a Fiesta Cubana three-course set menu, all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, plus a tonne of other main courses that don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories.

With so much choice, you might think that this is a case of quantity over quality, but everything I sampled from Revolucion De Cuba’s new menu was delicious, and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t order again.

Revolucion De Cuba serve great food and great cocktails, in a lovely venue with some amazing special offers – if you love a bargain then you’ve got to visit them on a Sunday, when it’s 2-4-1 on all tapas and the majority of cocktails.

I can’t think of anything negative to say about this place, so if you have a soft spot for this kind of Cuban-inspired food, or you just love great cocktails, then you should make a point of paying Revolucion De Cuba a visit!

four-stars

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Las Iguanas

May 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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With Sheffield enjoying a three-day heat wave recently, it was too nice to sit indoors – in other words, it was beer garden o’clock! However, after the beer garden high, comes the inevitable post-beer munchies. After an afternoon of sitting in the sun, me and my beer garden partner in crime were in the mood for cuisine from a warmer climate, so the Latin-themed Las Iguanas seemed ideal.

Las Iguanas is situated in the swanky West One Plaza, which is basically a courtyard dedicated to my two favourite pursuits: eating and drinking. On this sunny Saturday afternoon, West One Plaza was packed with people swigging cold beverages, eating good food, queueing outside LOL Bubble Tea, and generally enjoying being outside without shivering/getting rained on. It almost seemed a shame to be heading indoors, even if it was to enjoy some tasty grub.

This was my first ever visit to Las Iguanas, and initial impressions were good. It’s a light, airy venue, with a carnival feel thanks to all the bright colours – from the mosaic tables and funky, patterned furnishings; to the shiny red bar trimmed with LED lights; to the wall covered in a hodgepodge of multi-coloured picture frames. Las Iguanas also pull a clever trick with a mirrored wall, which makes the place feel much bigger than it actually is.

Las Iguanas

We were greeted by a very friendly member of staff, who offered us the lunchtime and the evening menu – oh, and would we like to see the vegan and vegetarian menu, too? In most restaurants, veggies are lucky if they get three meals to choose from, and vegans usually get even less. Las Iguanas may not immediately spring to mind when you think about veggie and vegan-friendly venues, but it actually has one of the most impressive vegan/vegetarian menus I’ve encountered in a “mainstream” restaurant. Many of the dishes are gluten free, too.

Obviously, there’s some overlap between menus. The lunch menu is pretty much just a pared-down version of the dinner menu, and the vegan and vegetarian menu is the dinner menu, with the meat and seafood removed. But, even with all this duplication, you’ll still be completely spoilt for choice.

The trio of menus covers all those tried-and-tested favourites – quesadillas, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, patatas bravas, and chilli con carne, to just name a few. Or, if you fancy trying something new, there’s dishes that make use of more unusual ingredients, such as plantain, truffle salsa, palm hearts, and a very intriguing-sounding peanut and crayfish sauce.

In the interests of trying as much of this massive menu as possible, we decided to share some starters. After much deliberation, we narrowed our selection down to the Tip Top Chipotle Whitebait (£4.50), and Calamares (£5.70).

Our food order was taken by one of the friendliest waitresses I’ve ever met, who wasted no time drawing our attention to the 2-for-1 offer on cocktails, something we hadn’t previously noticed. In light of this revelation, it only seemed fitting to order some cocktails. When it comes to booze, Las Iguanas doesn’t disappoint: they provide choice, and lots of it.

The cocktail menu includes all the usual suspects you tend to find in restaurants, but it also features some more exotic concoctions, such as a Columbian Cafe, Bronx Bebida, and a Jam Slam. In the end, we settled on a pair of Long Island Iced Teas (£6.75 per glass, or 2-for-1 Wednesday-Sunday, before 7.30 p.m).

Long Island Iced Tea

Our matching pair of Long Island Iced Teas tasted every bit as good as they looked. They had a refreshing lemon sting, and packed a boozy punch – exactly what you want from a Long Island Iced Tea.

Our starters arrived shortly after, which was a good job, because these Long Island Iced Teas were strong. The Calamares is a portion of whole baby squid, tentacles and all, coated in crispy batter. Don’t let the long, curly tentacles put you off; they actually pack a satisfying crunch and give you the chance to really appreciate that salt-and-pepper batter. The meatier, non-tentacle parts of the baby squid were juicy, and not in the least bit rubbery.

The Calamares came with a creamy dip, which had a subtle, spicy afterburn. The squid was delicious on its own, but this dip really sealed the deal. I suddenly regretted agreeing to share the starters!

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The Tip Top Chipotle Whitebait was covered in a very light, almost flaky batter, and the whitebait themselves were nicely cooked. However, the accompanying dips missed the mark: the sour cream was too thin, and the salsa lacked any kind of kick. We had to resort to the bottle of Cholula on the table; a few splashes of this bottled hot sauce delivered more flavour than the salsa and sour cream combined.

Whitebait

Onto the mains, and despite the hot weather, I hadn’t been able to resist the curry on Las Iguanas’ menu. The ‘Bahia Moqueca’ promised a creamy coconut curry, served with plantain, spicy aji and toasted coconut farofa sprinkles, plus spring onion and garlic rice. Las Iguanas can make your Bahia Moqueca with fish and peeled prawns (£12.95) or squash, palm hearts and spinach (£10.95). Despite my love of seafood, I’d never had palm hearts before, so I went with the veggie option.

As soon as I caught sight of my food, I knew I was in for a treat. Las Iguanas’ Bahia Moqueca is a meal of two halves; the first is a plateful of chunky aji, toasted coconut sprinkles, sweet and sticky plantain, and garlic and spring onion rice.

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The second part of the meal, is the curry itself.

Bahia Moqueca

Based on the menu’s description, I was expecting the Bahia Moqueca to be similar to a korma or maybe even a Thai green curry, but it was so much better than either of those. The sauce tasted strongly of coconut, but it also had a sour edge to it. This lingering, sharp aftertaste was an unexpected, but very welcome surprise. As much as I enjoy pigging out on creamy curries, the richness of the coconut can become overpowering after a while. The Bahia Moqueca’s tartness helped to keep things fresh and interesting. If you love coconut, or have a soft spot for sour flavours, then this is the meal for you!

The palm hearts that convinced me to order the vegetarian Bahia Moqueca in the first place, turned out to be almost completely tasteless. However, they did have a really different, woody texture, and the rings of palm heart looked fantastic floating on top of the curry, so I can understand why Las Iguanas included them in the Bahia Moqueca.

When it came to the extra bits and bobs that arrived with my Bahia Moqueca, my favourite was the aji, which reminded me of a chunky, homemade salsa, only it was vinegary, rather than spicy. The plantains were sticky and gooey, and brought a burst of sweetness to the Bahia Moqueca. However, the garlic and spring onion rice just tasted like coconut. I enjoyed the creamy rice, but I found it strange that I couldn’t taste any garlic or spring onion at all.

The Bahia Moqueca is easily one of the best meals I’ve had recently. It was so good that, despite Las Iguanas’ massive menu, it’ll be tough to resist ordering this again on my next visit!

The other main meal winging its way to our table, was everyone’s favourite Mexican street food; the Burrito. At Las Iguanas, burrito lovers have a choice of fillings: garlic mushrooms and vegetarian chilli (£9.95); smoked chipotle chicken (£10.95); or barbeque and jalapeno shredded steak (£10.95). My dining companion opted for the shredded steak.

Steak burrito

The burrito was a good size, especially considering the steak filling, and it came with a few of Las Iguanas’ added extras. On the upside, this meant more of that tongue-tingling aji and rich rice, but unfortunately it also saw the return of the bland sour cream and chipotle sauce combo.

The burrito itself was jam-packed with steak, which fell apart in a way not dissimilar to pulled pork. Despite enthusing about the tenderness of the steak, my dining companion didn’t get any hint of cheese or jalapeno, both of which appeared on the menu. They were also surprised that the burrito contained nothing but shredded steak and refried beans – no tomatoes, rice, onions, peppers, or any of that other good stuff you usually find in burritos (or maybe the Great Gatsby has spoiled us, when it comes to burritos?)

Las Iguanas deserve top marks for the venue, the friendly and helpful staff, and the sheer scope of their cocktail and food menus. Any venue where you’re handed three different food menus on your way in, is off to a good start. Las Iguanas also strike a good balance between unusual dishes, and crowd-pleasing classics. Although we weren’t completely sold on the steak burrito, the calamari and curry were both fantastic, and there’s plenty of other dishes on the menu that I can’t wait to try. We’ll definitely be back!

four-stars

The Great Gatsby

March 29, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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Last year, the Great Gatsby announced the launch of Shy Boy Catina; their new, distinctly Mexican-inspired menu. I’ve been meaning to give Shy Boy Catina at the Great Gatsby a go for a while now. Actually, I’ve been meaning to give it a go ever since I first heard that the Division Street pub had gone all Mexican on us, but despite being on my ‘To Do’ list for a while now, I wound up at the Gatsby last week completely by accident. I’d wandered into town hell-bent on trying a new sushi restaurant I’d heard good things about, only to discover that the place is closed on a Monday – and guess which day of the week I was stood outside, in the drizzle, trying the door handle and wondering why all the lights were off?

With no sushi in sight, the only sensible course of action was to head to the nearest pub and drink until our sushi-deprived party agreed on a Plan B. We eventually decided  that a burrito was a good substitute for sushi (obviously…), and so off to the Great Gatsby we went.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Great Gatsby, it’s a welcoming snug of place, that’s not too dissimilar to the Wick at Both Ends. It’s the kind of cosy spot where you can imagine whiling away an afternoon, sipping mulled wine (even in March) and watching the world go by. The Great Gatsby has a fantastic vibe too; it’s funky without being in the least bit stuffy or pretentious.

When it comes to food, the Shy Boy Catina is a festival of Mexican grub, covering burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and spicy sandwiches. There’s also some intriguing side dishes (avocado fries, anyone?) and a very authentic-sounding dessert of chocolate churros. If you’re partial to Mexican food, then prepare to be spoilt for choice.

After much deliberating, we both opted for a burrito; one Slow Braised Beef Rib burrito, and one Veggie Chilli burrito (£7 each). Our meat, and non-meat burritos were presented in exactly the same fashion, and came with an identical side order of tortilla chips and dips. First impressions were good, as the bundled-up burritos were big, fat torpedos, and when I picked mine up to unwrap it, I could feel the weight of all that rice and veg chilli.

Great Gatsby veggie burrito

Both burritos were accompanied by a handful of crunchy tortilla chips, which had clearly been cooked on the premises, as oppose to being pre-packaged. This little pile of tortilla chips was finished off with a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of finely-chopped tomatoes, red onion, and coriander. It’s always nice to see somewhere going the extra mile, rather than just grabbing a handful of crisps from a packet, plonking them on your plate, and calling that a side dish. The cooling mix of fresh veggies and sour cream also provided a much-needed break from those delicious, but heavy-going, burritos.

Of course, no tortilla chips are complete without dips, and our chips came with a duo of dips. The first, was a guacamole that was freshly-made, if the chunks of un-mashed avocado were anything to go by. I usually hate the texture of guacamole but I still couldn’t resist the Great Gatsby’s take on this dip. The second dip was a bit of a mystery, although there was definitely some coriander mixed in there. The dip had a sour note and a slow, spicy afterburn that I wasn’t overly keen on, so I stuck with the homemade guacamole, which was far tastier.

Speaking of burritos, it was time to peel back the wrapping and unleash the beast! There’s nothing delicate about the Great Gatsby’s veggie burrito; so even if you forgo the meat, prepare to be stuffed silly! My veggie burrito was chock-full of spicy rice, beans, and a smattering of veggies including courgette, roasted peppers, and tangy red onion. This stomach-swelling filling was perfectly cooked, with not a mushy grain of rice or burnt bean in sight.

Just to make absolutely sure you’re not going to be hungry anytime soon, the Great Gatsby lace their burrito filling with a strong, smoky cheese. I’m not sure what type of cheese they use, but I know that my life would be vastly improved if I had a block of the stuff in my fridge!

My veggie burrito had a satisfying heat to it, but if you like your food on the spicy side, then the Great Gatsby provide a barrel full of fiery condiments. If you’re a chilli freak (like yours truly) I recommend splashing some chipotle sauce onto that burrito. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to the sushi fiasco and the mid-day drinking, I was starving by the time I sat down for lunch, but even in that state I couldn’t clear my plate. If you’ve got a raging hunger, then treat yourself to a big, fat, juicy Gatsby burrito. It’s guaranteed to fill you up!

The braised beef burrito was an equally belly-filling affair.

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My dining companion had been a bit unsure what to expect from a “beef rib” burrito, but was relieved to see there wasn’t a bone in sight. The beef had been slow-cooked (for 8 hours apparently) in chipotle and coriander marinade, until it melted off the bone – and was then stuffed into a burrito. The chipotle marinade gave the tender meat a deep, rich heat, although it was difficult to make out the coriander.

In addition to juicy meat, the Great Gatsby managed to squeeze in some rice, cheese, diced tomatoes and raw red onion. The veggies were a very welcome addition, as without these bursts of freshness, the burrito might have been too heavy going to be properly enjoyable. Instead, the beef burrito felt like the perfect lunchtime blow-out.

Here, I have to make a confession. In a moment of madness (I blame those pre-lunch drinks), I’d ordered a side dish to go alongside my two tonne burrito: a portion of Corn & Black Bean Bombers (£3.50). These “bombers” are scotch egg-sized balls of sweetcorn and chunky bean mix, held together by an unexpectedly chewy batter, and served with a spicy mayo dip.

Great Gatsby black bean bombers

The chewy exterior was a bit of a surprise, but once I’d gotten over the unusual texture, the bombers are a mourish side dish that tastes even better dunked into the accompanying dip. My only regret is that I was too stuffed from my super-sized burrito, and had to enlist some help polishing off my bombers.

 Great Gatsby black bean bomber

In addition to stomach-stretching grub, the Great Gatsby do some funky cocktails. If you’re like me (i.e a sucker for a drink in a weird container), then get yourself down to the Gatsby and choose from a cocktail that’s served in a tin can, a jam jar, a paint tin, and even a treasure chest! Mexican food and treasure chests filled with booze? You’ve got to admire the Great Gatsby’s randomness.

Even before I sampled some of what Shy Boy Catina has to offer, I loved the Great Gatsby. After sampling the food, I love it even more! This Devonshire Street pub may not be the first thing that pops into your head when you get a hankering for Mexican street food, but they serve up big slabs of spiced stodge that’s the perfect hangover food, the perfect post-drinking food, and the perfect Plan B when the sushi restaurant around the corner is closed.

My advice? Go hungry. Go very, very hungry. And if you’re tempted by a side dish, be prepared to share – because you will be stuffed by the time you finish your main meal.

5-stars

El Paso

August 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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El Paso is one of those places I’ve walked past upteen times, but never actually visited. Perhaps that’s due to its less-than-ideal location (at the bottom of the Moor, with a prime view across the current building work) and its shiny red plastic exterior, which is more takeaway than restaurant. But, after a couple of fantastic meals at London Road venues that don’t look much cop from the outside, we decided to give El Paso a whirl, and were very pleasantly surprised.

Behind the tacky exterior lies a cosy, welcoming little venue. We were braced for a worn-around-the-edges sort of place, but instead were greeted by neatly laid out tables, a funky little bar tucked away in the corner and a clear view into the kitchen, which is always a good sign.

And the surprises kept on coming: not only does El Paso have a cocktail menu, but our mojitos (£5.95) could have given snazzier venues like Browns and Mud Crab a run for their money. They were certainly a notch above the mojitos we had at ultra-modern Revolution the previous week – who’d have thought it??

True, they were sweeter than your traditional mojito, but they went down such a storm that we were on our second round before we’d finished weighing up the menu. El Paso has the full range of Mexican and Italian nosh on offer: crespelle dishes, enchiladas, burritos, chimichanga, paella, chilli con carne, lasagna, bolognese, pizza, and seafood dishes, including swordfish for those feeling adventurous. As lovers of both Mexican and Italian, we had a tough time picking just one meal, but finally gave the waiter our orders and, tums rumbling, waited for our grub.

And waited.

And waited.

Despite being one of only two parties in the restaurant, it was a good forty minutes before our food arrived. We could see the chef preparing our meals from scratch in the adjoining kitchen, but forty minutes is longer than anyone should have to wait for their dinner in a next-to-empty restaurant. If you visit El Paso during peak dining hours, make sure you don’t arrive as hungry as we did.

I plumped for the Mexican side of El Paso’s double-whammy Mexican/Italian menu, and ordered a veggie burrito (£8.95). My pair of fat, cheese-slathered burritos were served with a mountain of yellow rice covered with fistfulls of corriander. The coriander gave the rice a freshness I wasn’t expecting, while the burritos were absolutely stuffed with the usual suspects plus something I hadn’t encountered in a veg burrito before: spinach. The spinach not only gave the filling a unique colour, but also a really different flavour, with the fiery spices and cooling cheese completing this flavour-packed dish. Quite simply one of the freshest and most interesting-tasting burritos I’ve ever had the pleasure of crossing paths with.

After the taste sensation of the burrito and herby rice, the side salad was a complete let down. It was as bland as pre-packaged supermarket fare. To make matters worse, the El Paso staff brought us an extra portion of salad to share, which included the bonus prize of a stray piece of cling-film. The bowl it came in was also stained, as though it had been used for serving sauce-based dishes in the past. It may not have been dirty, but this bowl should have been bleached, or thrown out rather than reused as a salad bowl.

Moving on from this salad-related disaster and onto the star of the meal: El Paso’s paella (£10.00). This jaw-dropper was faultlessly presented with decorative shell-on king prawns and a ring of mussel shells arranged around the edge of the plate. A generous sprinkling of herbs, and you’re onto a winner even before you’ve taken a bite.

But what about the taste? The shell-on king prawns didn’t just have the visual wow-factor; they were succulent and perfectly cooked, and the rice was a treasure-trove of seafood: melt-in-the-mouth squid, small prawns and mussel meat, with a little chicken thrown in for good measure. A seafood lover’s paradise.

Our bill came with a few complimentary chocolates, but if El Paso were trying to soften the blow of the bill with sweets, they needn’t have bothered: we’d had our fill of fresh, tasty and high-quality grub for a very reasonable price.

After such a satisfying meal, it’s easy to play down El Paso’s shortcomings – the bland side salad, the less than spotless salad bowl, the missing locks on the ladies’ loo, and the shabby, empty function room you have to walk past on your way to the aforementioned lock-less loo. It’s this lack of attention to detail that makes El Paso a rough-around-the-edges find, rather than something really special. Fantastic food, surprisingly good cocktails and reasonable prices – but frustratingly, this place could do better.

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