Pitch Perfect @ Cantina Laredo, Covent Garden

29 Sep 2018

Backing Mexico in the World Cup was all down to an unlucky draw in the sweep stake at work. Thankfully, I’m not all that into football (I can hear your cries of ‘why not’), so I didn’t really care all that much, but from a country that gave us guacamole, tacos and fajitas, I was easily able to forgive them for losing.

Although I’m in severe danger of sounding ‘basic,’ I’m in love with avocado, I can’t get enough of it. I want it with every meal, I want it on toast, I even want it in my smoothie for God’s sake, so the idea of a guacamole bar is music to each of my ears.

This guacamole bar (of absolute dreams) is in Cantina Laredo in Covent Garden, a modern Mexican restaurant run by the Ginsberg family. They specialise in sharing food, margaritas and eight great guacamoles, of which the spicy guacamole con cangrejo (£13) topped with salty-fresh white crab meat was a winning goal before the games had even begun. The crab guac outran the rubbery yellowtail tiradito (£8) by a mile, which was drowned helplessly in sharp lime juice.

Cantina Laredo looks really fancy with a wooden entrance large enough to let Bigfoot and all the Hendersons through, a huge reception and beautiful furniture which has been properly ‘designed’. The windows are massive, putting me in perfect sight of the street, like a fan with an expensive season ticket they didn’t tell the wife about.

Despite what the pitch looks like, if you’re coming to eat this central, then you’re going to have to know the score: it’s going to be busy, the prices are going to be north of affordable and you might be left sitting next to the Swiss Family Robinson who still can’t believe they’ve not yet bumped into the Queen. The plates might be small, but the food will definitely have a high degree of quality.

When it came to the intensely spicy chile ancho relleno (£14) stuffed with quinoa picadillo and black bean purée, no red card or referee could have stopped me from finishing it, but its opponent, the grilled vegetable fajitas de arrachera (£18) could have been sent off. The vegetables despite being wonderfully grilled were missing some seasoning other than pure heat, but the bits it was served with (the spiced rice, black beans and sour cream), smashed the ball over the fence and into the neighbour’s pond, with their absolutely fantastic taste.

The drinks at Cantina Laredo were in a league of their own, with a passion fruit and vanilla Berry Rude Not To (£6) being a great substitute to the cocktails and the rich Mexican hot chocolate (£4.50) made with real Abuelita chocolate and a kick of Grand Marnier, being so rich and so creamy it felt like there were three lions on the shirt and it was coming home.

At the end of the day, even though it was a game of two halves, there were enough top dishes at Cantina Laredo to make a lifelong fan out of me and I’d definitely be back to try the other seven guacamoles – a hundred and ten percent.


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