Trip to Mexico anyone? On such short notice, perhaps its better to wait for off-season. No one wants those sky high flight prices anyway. In the meantime, might I suggest a quicker trip, one that requires only one night and a train to Marylebone?
Kol Mezcaleria is your quickest ticket to Mexico in town. It's the brain child of Chef Santiago Lastra: Mexican recipes, with locally sourced ingredients. Who knew Britain and Mexico went this well together? Certainly not us, but Chef is somewhat of a prodigy. He was hand picked by Rene Redzepi to open Noma for a seven week pop up in Mexico. It was such a smashing success that Chef was inspired to start his own restaurant.
KOL is that vision come to life. He's joined forces with Matthias Inglman, the bar manager and mixologist extraordinaire downstairs at the Mezcaleria to make an experience so fun it can transport you to the nearest Mexican street.
Let the vacation begin.
What’s the Vibes?
Just down the spiral staircase, behind the closed off sliding doors you’ll find the Mezcaleria. Entering is like finding a secret stone cave. One that’s no longer inhabited by neanderthals. Although there are stories on the walls.
It’s like a Mexican museum in Marylebone. There’s masks on the back wall, and ‘Alebrijes’ or Mexican sculptures scattered throughout. Everything is a shrine to the stories and experiences that fill Mexican streets.
There’s handmade clay plates and cutlery, straw coasters and lamps that look like upside down wicker baskets. The space is split between counter seats that overlook the impressive collection of Mexican spirits and tables that line the wall. It’s best for smaller groups, or one to one’s. That dim light does do wonders on a first date.
Now throw in a couple touches of greenery and get yourself a drink. It won’t be too hard to believe you are in Mexico.
What to Drink?
If you don’t know anything about mezcal let me brief you. It’s tequila’s older, more mature cousin and it goes down like a smoke on simmer. Seriously, mezcal is known for its full body smoke effect. It doesn’t burn quite like the other spirits, making it a more friendly drink on its own with ice. If you like it hardcore and clean, I’d lean towards the martini - which Mezcaleria has knocked out of the park.
Mezcal virgin? Pop your cherry with the mezcal margarita. It’s not on the menu, but I assure you it’s one of their specialities. Once you feel safe in Mezcal’s (and Mattias’s) hands, it’s time to stray away from the basics.
The watermelon man is not to be missed. It’s like pop rocks turned to potion. It’s bubbly and refreshing, but still sophisticated enough to give to your father. Don’t be afraid of the cucumber on top: it’s there for a reason. Take a bite, then a sip. You’ll start to realize why this place won the best cocktail menu in 2022 at the national restaurant awards.
Now that we’re loose, it’s time for a tasting. Yes, that means shots but are we complaining? No! The difference between Mezcaleria and most bars is that most bars make drinks, while Mezcaleria masters new ones. They’re industry leaders, and experts in how mezcal is made. Mattias will lead you through the taste of Mexican history. Life’s too short to not be learning, even if you won’t remember in the morning…
Just kidding! Drink responsibly. Or at least break it up with food. Here’s what I’d order.
What to Eat?
There’s no drinks without food in Mexico. The Mezcaleria is no different. To accompany the creations are a taste of Chef Santiago’s snacks. The menu features nine anitjitos, or ‘little cravings,’ just like they do it in Mexico.
With a menu that bite sized, why not take a bite out of everything. Order some chips while you wait for your tostadas. There’s two kinds in case of dietary differences: one is enoji mushroom, fermented gooseberries and habanero. The second is wagyu beef, kohlrabi, and guajillo.
Follow it up with a quesadilla. It’s more like a pastry than a wrap. That’s because they’re not homemade, they’re Michelin made. If you need something bigger, order the wagyu beef empanadas. They were the best bite of the night.
End the evening with churros. Just don’t expect them to come out in sticks. Chef makes them in circles, with melted milk chocolate and popcorn on top. If you’re feeling crazy, get a little caviar. Why not? You’re on a one night vacation!
What’s the Damage?
It could be worse! Unless you’re going for caviar, then you only have yourself to blame. Drinks are all £16. The food depends on your taste. If you’re going casual, then the quesadilla will cost you £8. If you want to up the ante, the wagyu beef empanada is £16.
A couple drinks each and some snacks to share will put you somewhere above £100. Or maybe you’re just coming down for cocktails and churros. They’re 8 a pop, but you won’t want to share. So do count on getting two.
But let’s really put things in perspective, shall we? A flight to Mexico is £500, a bill at the Mezcaleria lives in the £100 to £200 range. So really, it’s a steal.
Anything else to note?
Kol was just voted #23 on the 50 best restaurants in the world list. No big deal.
If you have change to spare, why not start up top with Chef Santiago, and then make your way down to Matthias in the Mezcaleria after?
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45 Park Ln, London W1K 1PN; Kol Mezcaleria