We had been to Barrio East in Shoreditch before and liked it very much and had also encountered Barrio’s superb cocktail making skills at the Tequila & Mezcal Festival in Old Smithfields Market last month, so when we received an invitation to try the new food and drinks menu at the recently refurbished Barrio Soho, (formerly Barrio Central) in London’s Poland Street, we were really looking forward to the evening.
The menu, designed by the newly appointed Group Head Chef Ernesto Pavia, is mainly Mexican with a few nods to other Latin American countries. Ernesto is originally from Peru, has worked in Argentina, in a three Michelin star restaurant in France and most recently as Head Chef in London’s Bubbledogs.
All the dishes on the menu are made from scratch on the premises and everything we had was full of wonderful flavours.
After the obligatory guacamole and corn tortillas we had the Chicharron Mixto which is pork 3 ways: crispy smoky pig ears, puffy pork crackling with guajillo chilli mayonnaise and pig trotters croquettes with pickled jalapeño mayo.
We then had the Ceviche Mixto with octopus and scallops & avocado and crispy sweet potato and Serrano chilli as well as Cactus Quesadillas with three cheeses. Both were delicious!
Next we were served three different kinds of tacos. Tacos al Pastor (we love these!) made with achiote marinated pork, cooked on the spit with pineapple, onions and coriander. Lamb Chili Tacos (and we love these!) with smoky minced and ‘barbacoa’ lamb with sour cream, pickled cucumber, cheddar & cured egg yolk. And last but not least the Frito Fish Tacos (we love these, too!) with chipotle rubbed crispy fried cod, jalapeño aioli, cabbage slaw, sour cream & serrano chilli.
Sides included Batata Fritas (sweet potato fries with garlic & lime mayo) and House Pickles.
On the new menu there are also vegetarian choices available, like Aubergine Frita Tacos, Mushroom Empanadas and Elotes (grilled corn on the cob).
The cocktail menu has also been overhauled and there are many old favourites and brand new concoctions to choose from. In the name of research we tried all six cocktails on offer on the night (you’re welcome!).
Firm favourites of ours were the Rumshackle (Santa Teresa rum, orange curacao & pineapple) and the Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Santa Teresa rum, Four Roses bourbon & orange). We don’t know about you, but in the autumn winter we are drawn more towards whisky and rum based drinks.
The other ones on the tasting menu were the Wonky Donkey (Casco Viejo tequila, elderflower & ginger), Monte’s Melon (Montelobos mescal, watermelon & lemon), Cuba Lima (Pisco ABA, peach, lemon & egg white) and Bossa Beleza (Abelha cachaça, jasmine, ginger & mint). We liked those too.
The interior is decorated in vibrant Latin-American designs and colours and whilst you are enjoying your food on the ground floor, the party in the basement is probably already in full swing with DJs and live music. The room was packed, even though we went there on a weekday.
Whether you’re after genuine Mexican food for dinner, a pre-cinema or post-theatre cocktail or to let your hair down, Barrio Soho is a great place to go and prices (tacos £6, cocktails £8.50) are very reasonable for being smack bang in the middle of London. We’ll definitely be back, not at least because of the super friendly and efficient staff.
And until October 31st 2015, as part of their re-launch there is 50% of the menu. Can’t say fairer than that!
Monday – Friday 4pm – 1am, Saturday 3pm – 1am, Sunday 3pm – 11pm