It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Lupita, 13-15 Villiers Street, Charing Cross

A recent survey found that less than 30 percent of Mexican restaurants in London are any good. Admittedly, the survey was of me, and conducted by me, and I haven’t been to that many, but I’d be very surprised if I was wrong. Really, there’s Wahaca, that burrito place on Portobello Road, and not much else. And unfortunately, the brilliantly-located Lupita does nothing to redress the balance.

It’s not that the food is bad, exactly. Ceviche seems authentic (though my experience is of Liman, rather than Mexican ceviche). It’s been long-marinated in citrus, chilli, onions and other treats. The fish is rather chewy, but it’s nice and spicy, clean and simple.

Quesadillas are pleasantly soft, filled with a mushroom concoction, like a mushroom chocolate mole, that I love but Cute Letts hates. Huiltacoche it’s called, and it is at least interesting enough to divide opinion.

Because the problem with most of the food at Lupita is that it’s just so boring. Refried beans, stingily portioned next to packet tortilla chips (at least, I hope they were from a packet), are flavourless and so long-cooked that they’ve completely turned into a paste. There’s not a lump in sight. Pork carnitas is dry and dull, which for this most desirable of Mexican dishes, is criminal.

We also try some arrachera tacos, described on the menu as a ‘classic Mexican cut of beef, tenderised and marinated in our own special recipe.’ It’s a little hard on the teeth for something that’s been tenderised, while I can only assume the special marinade is not described in full because it’s not very special at all. Again, it’s not exactly bad, rather just woefully uninteresting.

Worst of all is a prawn and nopalitos (cactus) salad, which consists of an array of eight ingredients, from jalapenos to avocado, tomato to lettuce. Never has so much tasted of so little. It’s bland, underdressed and very disappointing, especially since at £7.80, it’s a couple of pounds more expensive than anything else we order.

The beer's nice, the service ok if a little terse. All together, the bill creeps in just below £40 pounds for two. It’s not a bad price for the area, or for the quantity of food. But with Wahaca about 300 yards away, I can’t imagine why you’d want to.

Phil Lett’s take: 3/10

Apologies for the lack of photos. Darkness, as ever, intervened.

Lupita on Urbanspoon

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