Ella Canta - Michelin starred Mexican Brunch!
Brunch at Ella Canta - Restaurant Review, London
Style Points: 5/5
When a restaurant is featured in the hit TV cookery competition MasterChef you know it has to be good. So I knew I was in for a special treat when I headed to Ella Canta on Park Lane which featured in this year’s semi-final of the show. The brainchild of renowned female Mexican chef Martha Ortiz, the restaurant first opened its doors in September 2017 and has built a strong reputation in the culinary world.
Upon entering the establishment, located adjacent to the InterContinental Hotel, the first thing you notice is the servers who are all dressed impeccably in waist-coasts and suspenders or bright dresses with colourful Mexican flower crowns. The decor is both modern and elegant and yet it doesn’t lose any of its Latin American charm including the cutlery with the plates being exclusively handmade and designed in Latin
America and crafted to resemble rolled out tortillas. The seating is also spacious and the atmosphere is suave and sophisticated, being somewhat enhanced by the upbeat bossa nova style music pumping through subtle speakers throughout the restaurant.
We took our seats to try the three-course weekend brunch which includes 90 minutes of unlimited margaritas (£45 per person).
The first margarita acted as the palate cleanser and was a refreshing Grapefruit & Pineapple Margarita. It was salty, sweet and sour, everything you want in a margarita.
The starters all looked exquisite and we decided to try the Aguacate relleno de mariscos (half avocado filled with seafood and spicy mayonnaise), Tostada de pulpo con salsa de cacahuate (octopus tostada with spicy peanut, sauce & avocado) and Pescadilla de Nayarit (fried fish taco with pickled carrots & chipotle sauce).
Each starter was seasoned to perfection and the flavours were fantastic. The half avocado was filled with fishy delights including octopus and mussels and with the spicy mayonnaise it resembled an elegant prawn cocktail (I dare to say!).
The fresh chilli gave it a nice spice kick and the radish shavings added a refreshing crunch alongside the smooth and creamy avocado. The octopus tostada with the peanut sauce was delicious and plentiful and had flavour notes similar to a chicken satay. There was also a great crunchy texture when eaten with the blue corn tortilla which the tostada was placed on top of.
Tacos are of course a popular and traditional Mexican dish as the fried fish taco were just simply a delight to eat - moreish, spicy, crunchy and packed with the flavours of Mexico.
Next up was the Lavender and Sea Salt Margarita which I have to say was my personal favourite due to the fragrant lavender smell and the beautiful deep purple colour. I was certainly glad there was unlimited refills!
For the main course, tried the Flautas de papa en salsa verde esmeralda (crispy potato tacos with lettuce, queso fresco and green sauce), Pollo de leche adobado con cebollas moradas encurtidas (slow roasted baby chicken with pickled red onion and avocado) and Torta ahogada estilo Guadalajara (Mexican bread filled with slow cooked pork in red sauce.) The potato filling in the taco was soft and smooth to contrast the crunch of the taco and paired wonderfully with the lettuce and tangy queso fresco, which is a type of white cheese that is popular in Mexico and similar to sour cream. The green sauce that accompanied it was salty and spicy to provide a little bit of heat to the dish.
The slow roasted baby chicken was cooked to perfection and the main flavours were lemon, herb and chili, similar to the Portuguese piri piri chicken. A revelation for me was eating the chicken with the fresh avocado which added a really nice creamy note to the dish. It’s a combination that I want to try more of!
The final dish can only be described as a pulled pork sandwich drowned in hot sauce, which is roughly what the name of the dish translates into. A torta ahogado, or drowned sandwich, is popular in Mexico and in particular Guadalajara, and the sandwich is usually ‘drowned’ in a hot chilli sauce. The sauce in this particular dish wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy for me but if you aren’t used to chilli you may find this dish a little on the hot side. For me, it was the right level of spice and soaked up nicely into the bread. It felt like a proper Mexican street food dish and I enjoyed mopping up the rest of the sauce with the leftover bread.
The final margarita we tried was the Hibiscus Margarita which was sweeter in tast than the others and had a nice fragrance of the hibiscus flower.
Finally, to draw the curtain on our fabulous brunch, dessert. We tried the Fantásticos churros Mexicanos con festín de caramelo y chocolate (fantastic Mexican churros with caramel and chocolate feast) and Pan dulce Mexicano (Mexican sweet bakery: Conchas, puerquitos de piloncillo & garibaldis).
Churros are of course a popular Mexican desserts and pan dulce is essentially a bread basket of assorted sweet breads that are typically eaten with hot chocolate at breakfast or supper. The conchas were particularly delicious - three warm and sweet bread rolls with crunchy toppings of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.
However, out of all the sweet treats, the churros were the standout. I’d go as far as to say that they were the best churros I’ve ever tasted. The texture of the churros were perfect - light, crunchy and crispy without being overwhelmingly oily or dense. The sugar and cinnamon coating was superb and when dipped into the divine caramel sauce it was just dessert heaven.
We also ordered some spicy hot chocolates to dip our sweet breads into - Chocolate Vegano con Hierbabuena (coconut milk, chocolate metate from Oaxaca, mint and toasted pumpkin seeds) and Chocolate Prehispánico (chocolate metate de tabasco, avocado leaves, morita chile, pasilla chile, vanilla.) Although not on the brunch menu and quite pricey at £6.50 they were definitely worth it. Both hot chocolates had their own unique and complex flavours that made them much more than just a hot chocolate.
The Weekend Brunch has two options, 3-courses for £45 per person including 90 minutes of unlimited margaritas or sparkling wine or 3-courses for £35 per person including 90 minutes of unlimited non-alcoholic agua frescas.
For what you get this is a great deal and there are plenty of dishes and margaritas to choose from.
If you love Mexican food and brunching with friends at the weekend then you need to give the Weekend Brunch at Ella Canta a try. The venue is spacious and sleek and the food and margaritas will live on long in the memory once you leave. This is definitely a MasterChef worthy restaurant and I will be adding it to my list of top brunch spots in London.
Book your table for Brunch at Ella Canta!
Address: One Hamilton Place, Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1J 7QY
Closest tube station: Hyde Park
Special thanks to Ella Canta for their hospitality!