This review is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form. I choose to review restaurants that I genuinely love so very much. Check out my other reviews for honest, thorough, and delicious appraisals!
Ella Canta is a beautiful name for a restaurant. I imagine a feminine environment that is both strong and soft. This is what Ella Canta is. Martha Ortiz is a Mexican chef and owner of two beautiful restaurants. The first is in Mexico City and Ella Canta is the second, located within the InterContinental London Park Lane in London. Her goal is to educate the British public about real Mexican food, and not the muddling Tex-Mex cuisine. I happen to love both types, but I understand the frustration when people lump up all these types of cuisines into one. If there is ever a place to learn of Mexico’s gifts, then Ella Canta is your pick.
The night begins with a magical menu of cocktails. I admit I am more of a beer and wine kind of gal, but the temptation rises when I see tequila. You may ask, why? I have a friend that told me tequila is her absolute fave because it is the liquor with the least amount of calories. OKAY THEN–not quite why I love it. It is the only type of hard liquor that I truly actually like, and it settles in my stomach quite well. As you might guess judging from this information, margaritas are my favourite cocktails.
Back to the cocktail menu. It is labelled “Mexico’s Gifts to the World” and at this point I am getting excited. I opt for Nahuani’s Star. As described on the menu, “When warrior Nahuani died, her loyal eagle threw itself to earth and became the Pico de Orizaba volcano.” Flavours of ginger, lemon, guava, rose, and surprise, activated charcoal! You can really taste the lightness and airiness of the warrior and the aftertaste of dried up lava. Victor opted for the Flor de Nopal–“Under the Mexican sun, the Opuntia cactus bears pear-like fruits and neon flowers.” A lighter drink, it is flavoured with pimento and prickly pear liqueur, lemon agave, and spiced red wine. Both cocktails are deeeeelicious!
The restaurant is named Ella Canta, so it makes sense for the menu to coordinate with a stage performance. We ordered the guacamole, which comes with a little golden surprise — a gold grasshopper! After several minutes of discussing whether vegetarianism excludes grasshoppers, I declined to try. Victor had a go and said it was very crunchy. No harm done there! The guacamole is wonderful. It is the perfect balance of textures and freshness. Topped with pomegranate and ricotta cheese, this green starter is not to be missed.
While I ate my way through the guacamole, Victor ordered the the tamale. I unfortunately could not try it because though the menu indicated cheese and cream, it also contains pork. Nevertheless, he seemed quite satisfied with his choice.
Now, let me tell you, I am a huge fan of crab. I am also extremely picky about crab. So, when I saw Ella Canta offers soft shell crab I was both ecstatic and skeptical. It is a pastor style crab with guajillo hummus and pineapple purée. It is the perfect combination of flavours. The crunchiness of the crab mixed with the mild chilli flavour of the hummus and the sweet and sour taste of the purée is just magical.
Victor opted for the Cochinita pibil con achiote, a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Peninsula. It also comes with a refreshing black bean salad. Victor said it is extremely tender and the flavours complemented each other in a deep, meaningful way. Yummy, to say the least.
Though we were full and wonderfully satisfied, I needed to try a dessert. Looking over the menu, you see churros, ice creams, and cakes. All of the desserts are explained except for one very special one. Called ‘María, la Mexicana llega a Londres’ [María, the Mexican arrives to London], it is no doubt mysterious. We asked our server what it is and she began this long description of María. María is beautiful, María is soft, María is mysterious. Not sure what this could entail, our waitress gave us a little hint. If we like cheesecake, then we will love María. And so here comes María and she is in fact a cheesecake-like pudding with some sort of fruit confit on the inside.
It truly is a spectacular dessert. As you can see, the restaurant also paid a little tribute to my birthday! After everything was said and done, we came across another surprise from Ella Canta. Our waitress presents us with a ferris wheel surrounded by small, traditional Mexican candies and sweets. She places the ferris wheel on the table and starts to turn the handle making the wheel move. She tells us that life is a mystery but it is a cycle. The wheel represents the cyclical nature of life and that life grants us what to comes to us. It was the beautiful end to a beautiful birthday. Thank you, Ella Canta.