Mestizo: Lovely food, shonky serviceWent to Mestizo last night on the Hampstead Road, trying not to be the guy who had been to Mexico. As it happened it did not matter, the experience was authentically Mexican at authentically London prices. And what I mean by authentically Mexican is that the food was spot on, and the service was a bit – lackadaisical.

So the good. The good is the cocktails. The good is the deliberate aim to try and serve grazing and drinking food, as well as being a proper restaurant. The good was the best Mole Poblano I have had outside or inside of Mexico (and that includes three days in Puebla the home of this chocolate and chicken dish). The food could not be faulted at all. The chicken was freshly cooked, the sauces sublime. And whilst the restaurant could have done with a bit of air conditioning, the place was a cool enough joint.

Now I’ve bitched about poor service before in restaurants, and we are nowhere near the level of poor service that was evident in this trip to Addis. Our waiter was polite, enthusiastic and knowledgeable of the menu. He was just slightly less knowledgeable of what they had in the kitchen. After our mains he also brought us the bill uncalled for. All minor problems. However i should have been wary when they were out of cold Negro Modelo earlier (the perfect accompaniment to a Mole Poblano). A bit miffed, I opted for a Pacifico and asked them to put some Modelo in the fridge for later. Later comes, we send the bill back and order some dessert and I ask for the hopefully now cooler beer. He returns to say they are out of the Mexican dark beer. I don’t want another lager so I ask for a black coffee instead. He comes back. They don’t have any coffee.

They don’t have any coffee. Yr a restaurant! In Camden. There’s a Sainsbury’s Local 100 yards away.

Desserts took an age and when it came my mixture of Vanilla and Chocolate Ice-Cream appeared to have been ethnically cleansed. (By the way, when a restaurant promises an ever changing selection of ice-creams and sorbets I expect a) some sorbets and b) more than just Vanilla and Chocolate). The bill took an age, and the waiter counted the proffered money on the table (“ten, twenty, forty, sixty, thirty pounds on the card” – checks bill “yes, that’s okay”). He then goes on to inform us he has worked there for two weeks and probably lost twenty pounds in sweat. Nice! Here’s someone else who has a similar view with regards to the food vs service issue at Mestizo.

Mestizo does great food. It does great cocktails. I really would recommend it heartily, though maybe on a quieter night than a Tuesday! And jolly service is better than completely incompetent service. But it does take the edge off of a meal, and when I go back (which I will) I’ll be asking if they have coffee and the beer I want in advance.