Wahaca, Queens Road: June 2018 Review

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So, it turns out that restaurants without TV screens are quite empty on nights when England are playing a World Cup match! That was the case with a recent meal at Wahaca on Queens Road: we’d been invited to sample some of the new dishes on their menu, and had booked our table before the quarter-final fixtures had been confirmed…

It wasn’t just the customers who were missing, either. We’d booked on a night when the staff of Wahaca Bristol were off on either a team building or training day (I forget which), and members of the Wahaca Cardiff team had taken over the Bristol restaurant for the evening. And we were impressed: they were all very helpful, very friendly and clearly very knowledgeable about the menu too.

We had our pick of tables, and decided to sit at the front of the restaurant, next to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Triangle and the cage-like swing seats to the left of the front door.

 

Wahaca Bristol - Oscar

Obligatory baby shot!

 

We started with a drink each: a crisp and refreshing Modelo Especial (£4.50) for him (the husband, not the baby), a thick and fruity Wahaca Colada (£7.50) for me – a lighter version than the classic, without as much of a creamy texture.

 

Wahaca Bristol - Drinks

 

And then the food began to arrive. In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have been so greedy, but there were plenty of new dishes on the menu that we wanted to try…

The first was the DIY taco board (£16.25) – basically, everything you need to make your own steak tacos at your table. It was beautifully presented, served on a raised stand with the sturdy, doughy tacos in a lidded basket, and the rest of the components in individual bowls and plates.

Stringy melted fondue-style cheese was mixed with chopped red onions for extra crunch, and a dish of black beans had an almost creamy texture even without the cream with which they were doused.

Fresh guacamole and a spicy salsa ensured the tacos weren’t too dry, and we loved the slaw: made without mayo, it had a beautifully fresh flavour and a lovely crunch with a little chilli heat running through.

The steak was a mixed bag. Cooked medium-rare as standard (you can ask for it to be cooked in your preferred way), it had a lovely charcoal crust and was perfectly cooked. While some slices were deliciously tender, others were a bit too stringy and gristly and had to be left to one side.

 

Wahaca Bristol - DIY Taco Board

 

The nachos with chorizo (£5.75) was probably our favourite dish of the night. The pricing was incredible – the portion was huge, attractive and had a great mix of flavours. The tortilla chips themselves were sturdy enough to hold their own against the liquidy toppings – and the toppings themselves were fantastic: tender black beans, avocado spiked with the tang of coriander and a fiery heat, an American-style cheese sauce and finely chopped chorizo with its smoky, spicy flavour which was tempered by the cooling, creamy topping.

 

Wahaca Bristol - Nachos

 

I’ve tried Wahaca’s pork pibil tacos before, and now their signature meat is available in quesadilla form too (£5.45). While the nachos seemed like a generous portion for the price, this dish had just two small wedges of filled and toasted tortilla. The tortilla was thin and crispy and had an almost pancake-like flavour to it, and the citrusy pork was tender, tasty and paired well with the vinegary tang of Wahaca’s signature pink onions and a huge amount of cheese. The quesadillas were very liquidy, though, and messy to eat.

 

Wahaca Bristol - Quesadillas

 

Next up, the duck croquetas (£5.50), which were a little disappointing. They were lovely and crispy, but the duck and sweet potato filling just didn’t work – the shredded duck looked the part, but an overwhelming sweetness totally destroyed its flavour. The hibiscus and chipotle salsa, though, was outstanding: smoky and with an almost refreshing flavour, giving way to building heat.

 

Wahaca Bristol - Duck Croquetas

 

We definitely ordered too much. We soldiered on, though, and sampled the chorizo empanadas (£4.95), with a crisp and crunchy pastry, and generously filled. Mexican-style Cornish pasties was our verdict – but the fillings could have been better balanced. The smoky heat of the chorizo came through, but not much of the flavour – the crushed new potatoes had the starring role. I definitely want the recipe for the fresh and punchy tomatillo salsa, though…

 

Wahaca Bristol - Chorizo Empanadas

 

We figured we should probably have some veg too, and tried the Mexican grilled corn (£4.80) – another of the new dishes on the Wahaca menu. To be honest, we were intrigued more than anything: described as being served with habanero mayo, finely grated cheese and chilli sugar salt, we were interested to see how it worked.

It was addictive. An odd combination, granted, but the intense sweetness paired with the heat from the habanero chillies really worked.

 

Wahaca Bristol - Mexican Grilled Corn

 

A bit of a mixed bag, all in all. The DIY tacos would have been fantastic if every slice of steak had been up to scratch, the nachos were outstanding, and the corn was addictive. The other dishes, though, were a little hit and miss – a real shame, as we’ve had nothing but great food from Wahaca before.

 

Please note: our meal at Wahaca Bristol was received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

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