29 November 2015

Night on the Tiles at Barrio Soho

I don't know about you, but I reckon Mexican cuisine is the ultimate comfort food. It's flavour-some, warming and there's often lots of melted cheese involved. Winning. Plus, who can resist some chunky guac, spicy salsa and cool sour cream?

Barrio Central is under the process of being re-branded (the website hasn't changed, yet) to Barrio Soho, and is the perfect place for a relaxed, comforting meal with friends. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and its infamous happy hour - Monday to Thursday, 4pm - 8pm - is not to be missed.

Since I visited, the menu has gone all Christmassy (less than a month to go, how did that happen?) and I'm desperate to go and try their festive cocktails - Gingerbread Colada, anyone? - but until then, here's how my night went down a few weeks ago.

The lighting wasn't great, which made photos a bit of a 'mare, but I hope you can forgive me.

We started with cocktails, naturally, making the most of the happy hour(s). As mentioned, the cocktail menu has changed so I can't tell you the exact names of the ones we sampled, but they went down well...

Our initial waiter seemed to be in a world of his own, not knowing the answer to any of our questions - "Are we eating first, or painting?" "What do you recommend?" - and somewhat floating around the place. At first we were baffled and didn't know what to make of him, but then we saw the funny side... and got the manager's attention instead. Bless.

My friend wanted to get involved in the action, too. Hiya.

Prior to visiting, we'd already established the more food, the better. It had been one of *those* days, y'know? We also wanted variety. So we went for the 'Taquiza Platter' which gave the option of 4 tacos (2 per portion, so 8 in total) and came with a side order of Mexican slaw and Chicharrones (lightly puffed pork crackling with chilli mayo).

Plus nachos, because you can't do a Mexican meal without nachos. That would be blasphemy.

Our food arrived within 20 minutes or so, which got my seal of approval (I hate waiting too long, otherwise I get hangry), and we ordered more cocktails to wash out meal down.

Left to right: Lamb Chilli, Al Pastor, Mexican slaw, Chicharrones, Chorizo con papas and Frito Fish

Lamb Chilli - smoky minced and barbecue lamb with sour cream, pickled cucumber, cheddar & cured egg yolk - couldn't taste the egg yolk, so that was fine
Al Pastor - artichoke marinated pork with pineapple, white onion & coriander - we picked off the pineapple...
Chorizo con papas - Mexican style spicy chorizo with red and purple potatoes, spinach, jalapeño and queso fresco
Frito Fish - Chipotle rubbed crispy fried code, jalapeño aioli, cabbage slaw, sour crea, & serrano chilli - the spiciest one!

Unable to handle the heat, we hastily picked off the jalapeños (they give you the option to have your chillis on the side with nachos, which is good) and got stuck in.

Close up of the Frito Fish

I managed to devour my 4 tacos pretty quickly, but halfway through the nachos I was definitely full. The tacos were excellent, and if I had to pick my favourite I'd be torn between the Frito Fish and Lamb Chilli. Annoyingly, the chorizo taco was a bit greasy and messy, dripping everywahh, but it was still delicious.

Satisfied, we moved on to the second part of the night - and what I'd been looking forward to most - tile painting!

The Barrio empire is expanding, with a new site opening in Brixton towards the end of the year. In honour of the launch, Barrio are giving diners the chance to make their mark on the property with a painted tile adorned on the wall opposite the bar.

Back to basics arts and crafts seem to be all the rage at the moment, with a surge in sales of adult colouring books as a means of turning off from social media and our busy lives. With this in mind, I was excited to paint for the sake of painting and have a giggle while doing so. We were shown to the back corner of the bar, decked out in paper tablecloths, paints & paintbrushes.

I kept things simple, with a few colourful squiggles. My friend, however, went to town and managed to pull off a painting of the sassy girl emoji...!

We were served a few margarita shots (courtesy of the dashing barman, *not* included in the painting experience, I'm afraid).

And we were done! And we were pretty chuffed with our efforts. Et, viola.

This photo is everything.

Barrio Soho was really rather fun, and something I'd recommend to people who are after a catch up with friends - for the tasty food and reasonably-priced drinks. I wouldn't say the food was value for money, but the hospitality and upbeat atmosphere kept us very happy.

Plus, the tile painting offered a meal with a twist, and provided the cherry on top of a fabulous night. It's only offered on a Tuesday evening, so don't miss out. I'm definitely keen to try out the other venues, and fingers crossed our tiles feature on the Brixton site...!

*Our meal was complimentary in exchange for a review, but as always any opinions expressed are my own.

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