SquareMeal Review of
Hotel restaurants in affluent areas of London are hardly known for their vibrancy, but famed Mexican chef Martha Ortiz rips up the rulebook with her brand of authentic yet cliché-busting cuisine. Guests are welcomed into a colourful and quirky dining room inspired by native artist Frida Kahlo (waitresses don her hairstyle and her face even appears on the lamps in the loos). Despite the offbeat surrounds, the menu (split into theatrical ‘acts’) isn’t about to be overshadowed. We’d recommend sharing a handful of starters, such as über-fresh guacamole topped with chunks of ricotta and bursts of pomegranate, served alongside a crunchy gold-embossed grasshopper; otherwise, the tangy salmon tostadas and the chunks of smoky octopus, rubbed in chilli sauce and topped with crisp burnt onion both get our vote. For the ‘main act’, supremely tender duck, smothered in bittersweet black mole and served on red rice is a comforting delight, while dessert (‘the final curtain’) features classics such as warm cinnamon-dusted churros accompanied by chocolate and caramel sauces for dipping. Connoisseurs of mezcal and Tequila won’t want to miss the glamorous standalone bar, which majors in rare styles and boasts a small-plates menu including deliciously moreish chocolate and chilli popcorn. Ortiz’s concept can become a little laboured through gimmicky props and over-attentive staff, but if you’re willing to buy into it, Ella Canta is quite the fiesta.