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Monday, November 28, 2011

El Camion Mexicano (Soho London) - Restaurant Review

El Camion Mexicano (Soho) - 25-27 Brewer Street
Cuisine: Mexican Food

I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to Mexican food so I thought that I would start my restaurant reviews with what I know best. 

Summary: The food was tasty and verging on authentic but overpriced for the portions. The atmosphere was loud, colorful and the decor reflected a stereotypical characterization of Mexico which is both good and bad (ie tequila, Virgin Mary, Che). I was there (on my own) on a Friday night and the place was very busy, in slang terms, "kickin". The staff and service were inadequate - but that might just be my snobby American attitude towards service.  Read on mis amigos

The Food: Like I said, Mexican food is my domain and well, I ordered the the tacos "de picadillo" which is a ground beef based but very well seasoned taco. I actually really enjoyed the actual tacos and they tasted "authentic" enough but the portion was so small I then ordered another set of tacos but this time shredded pork ones and I will admit they were tasty as well. Two sets of tacos and a diet coke cost me £17.10. Far too expensive, albeit good.  

The Atmosphere: If you think of all of the images that pop into your head when you think "Mexico", that is exactly what this restaurant looks like. The walls are loud vibrant colors, any open space or surface is covered with assorted tequila bottles and salsa containers. And of course, the token statue of Our Lady makes an appearance as does a portrait of "Che", who by the way, was Argentinian but lived and died in Mexico. I was there on a Friday night and the restaurant was very busy, as was the street where the restaurant was located. Couple after couple left after hearing the length of the wait for a table. In the background, Mexican music was playing, though it was completely muffled by the sounds of people shouting across tables and drunken laughter coming from group tables. It is the type of place you really have to be "in the mood" to stomach. 

The Service: I mentioned earlier that the place was busy. It is always a good sign for a place to be busy. But it is not good for the staff to look rushed, stressed, flustered. Upon entering the host looked at me and I had to initiate contact. I told him I would be eating alone and did not mind eating at the bar. He basically told me to wait for a seat and sit down when I saw one. A bit - rude but I kept an open mind. As soon as I found a free stool I sat and waited for about 10 minutes for the eating area before me to be cleared, a task which I had to request to be done as well. Finally the waiter came who was nice enough but I could tell rushed. I already knew what I wanted so I immediately ordered and away he went. I would never see him again. My food, drink, second order, bill and eating utensils (brought after the food) were all placed before me by different servers. No one so much as smiled and I don't think even made eye contact. In all honesty, the servers all looked like very nice people, so I think the poor service is a result of poor training. I did not leave a tip. 

Would I go back?: No. Unless I was very drunk or starving. While the food was good, the experience left me feeling like I paid a lot of money for a fast food experience. 

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