Arriba, abajo, al centro, paâdentro! @ Cartel, Battersea
13 Aug 2017
Over the past year Iâve become one of those people who dresses head-to-toe in Lycra, slight belly bulging, desperately trying to shave 0.531 seconds off my morning lap around Richmond Park. I know what youâre thinking, âwait, you voluntarily decided to cycle one evening, to Battersea, to a place that serves beer, tequila and mezcal?â Iâll answer that later.
I met up with my housemate, George, and luckily for us the sun was shining and the folding doors that adorned the faĂ§ade were flung wide open, as if beckoning us in with a boozy, amorous hug.
It had to be a beer. Nothing else. My thirst was instantaneously quenched as soon as the sweet Modelo nectar kissed my lips. We ordered a selection of wings to kick things off, alongside a portion of nachos and a Kilimanjaro-sized mound of fresh guacamole. George had had a tough day at work, you see.
As a couple of growing lads, we opted for every taco under the sun, having been told passionately that each tortilla had been hand-pressed that very day using Masa Harina corn flour: the real McCoy.
We were showered in tacos left, right and centre, ranging from âChilli Garlic King Prawnsâ with crunchy slaw and chipotle mayo through to âBaja Fishâ with avocado salsa, pico de gallo and lime mayo. The lead singer of this cacophonous band of flavours had to be the âPulled Porkâ, which was accompanied by black bean purĂŠe, white onion, coriander and mango. Yes, mango. Priced at, on average, ÂŁ6 for two, I couldnât possibly think of a better bite to pair with an ice-cold cerveza.
The beers slipped down my throat faster than my 95kg self (and thatâs being kind) on a lubed-up toboggan down the perilous KitzbĂźhel âStreifâ run in the Austrian Alps. This very much foreboded the way of the mezcal.
As I embarked upon yet another delectable taco – this time the âLemon, Garlic & Mezcal Chickenâ â we were kindly brought a myriad of drinks. The eponymous âCartelâ was up first, and it was comprised of PatrĂłn Blanco, citric acid and crĂ¨me de peche, presented ostentatiously in a PatrĂłn bottle. I canât tell you how delicious this was.
Following that, an onslaught of mezcals navigated their way to our table, including a personal favourite called âOaxacaâ from Mezcales de Leyenda, boasting fresh celery and gentle spiced notes but with a fruity, smoky taste. And if the flurry of mezcal wasnât enough, we were both kindly presented with an âOrendainâ, made up of Arette Blanco, crĂ¨me de cacao, dry vermouth and Peychaudâs Bitters served straight up with an absinthe mist. Phwoar, that one certainly hit home.
For pudding, a âChorizo and Potatoâ quesadilla filled the gap and we were again urged to choose from the 70+ tequilas and 100+ mezcals a nightcap, as it were, before quite literally stumbling off into the night.
âBut you cycled there, Xander, what about your bike?â I hear you question in a caring, motherly tone. Well, I forgot about my bike and got an Uber home. I was so content with the plethora of tacos, mezcals and guacamole I had inhaled, there was only one place for me to rest my weary self: bed. I think I got about 25 seconds into the next episode before nodding off with the lights on, still dressed in my bloody Lycra.