I am a big fan of Mexican food. I’ve never been to Mexico, but the proliferation of Mexican restaurants in London means I’m never short of options and I thought it was about time to write a Mexican restaurant review. El Camion, in the heart of Soho, is a funky little place with hundreds of different bottles of chilli sauce lining the walls and Speedy Gonzales cartoons playing on the TV in the corner. Its size makes the service feel friendly and personal, and its slightly tongue in cheek attitude gives it a great atmosphere.
My dining companion and I shared a starter of chicken tinga quesadilla served with spiced sour cream dipping sauce. It came quickly, barely ten minutes after we’d ordered, and was very generous for a first course. The tortilla was light and toasted to a perfect light golden brown. It was stuffed full with delicately spiced, tender shredded chicken breast and oozing with Monterey Jack cheese, so perfectly melted that when we tore the quesadilla to share it the cheese stretched out in stringy strands like on a cheesy (sorry) takeaway pizza advertisement. The sour cream dipping sauce was a nice touch, spiced with paprika, cayenne pepper and herbs that gave it a nice freshness and complimented the quesadilla brilliantly.
For main, I chose the Alhambre, two crispy corn tortillas loaded with steak, green peppers, onions and melted Monterey Jack cheese, served with Mexican rice and beans. I’m rarely lost for words, but I find it difficult to describe just how tasty this dish was. The steak (though cooked medium-well rather than my requested medium-rare) was tender and bursting with flame-grilled flavour, which was in turn enhanced by the freshness of the green pepper alongside. The cheese, once again, was flawlessly melted and the combination of textures – soft oozing cheese, rich mouth-filling steak, and light, crisp tortilla was fantastic. The Mexican rice, flavoured with garlic, chilli powder and tomato was a satisfying accompaniment, and the smooth black beans brought everything together since they complimented both the rice and the tortillas.
My one bone of contention with El Camion would be the sheer speed of the experience. Although I didn’t realise it as we were eating, from being seated at our table to paying the bill took a grand total of 50 minutes. Even in a casual setting, that’s just a little too hasty for my taste. Still, for extremely tasty Mexican food at reasonable prices in the heart of London (two courses and a drink at around £20 per head), I reckon this place can’t be beat. Drinks-wise, the wine list is rather narrow but El Camion offers excellent cocktails, a variety of fruit juices and a good selection of Mexican beers. Definitely deserving of a full four Forks-Up.
We were a bit full for dessert, so instead we headed to the funky basement bar for a yummy cocktail made by none other than Dick Bradsell himself.
El Camion – Soho 25 – 27 Brewer Street London W1F 0RR