DATE NIGHT: SPICE UP YOUR LIFE WITH THE BEST MEXICAN IN LONDON

WHAT

Ella Canta Restaurant at London’s InterContinental Park Lane

PRICE

At around £150 for dinner for two, with a bottle wine (or a margarita or two) it’s one for a special occasion – but well worth it.

WHY

Head chef Martha Ortiz made her name in her native Mexico with Dulce Patria, regarded as one of the best restaurants in Latin America. Now she has brought her dramatic flair to London. The menu(according to the restaurant website) has been ‘curated’ by Ortiz where her ‘love of fantasy twists tradition into new forms’. Each dish is a work of art in itself,  vibrant colours leaping off the plate. But it’s not all about appearance over sustenance – the food is seriously good.

ON THE MENU

Forget Tex Mex, cuisine at Ella Canta is from another world altogether, as high-end, modern Mexico food meets that of the country’s diverse and inspiring past. For starters (or Overtures as Ella Canta calls them) we had a stunning Seabass ceviche with a mango and sangrita sorbet, while the Octopus and smoked chilli sauce had us crying out for more. Beef fillet with black chichilo with ashes with aubergine lived up to its Main Act billing, while the slow roasted pork with achiote and black bean salad was cooked to perfection. Apparently Ortiz isn’t much a Final Curtain (desserts) person, but ours (churros and the aptly name Maria Arrives From Mexico) were a chocolately heaven.

WHERE

Ella Canta is a slice of colour and Latin flair in the far more formal five star InterContinental London Park Lane (which partly explains the prices). It’s no surprise to read that Ortiz is a fan of Mexico’s most famous artiste, Frida Kahlo, and her influence can be seen in the decor (as well as the food). Service was occasionally a little slow, but the enthusiastic staff – with uniforms inspired by her home country – give a very warm welcome, and they are happy to talk you through the menu and make recommendations.

WHEN

We went for a midweek dinner and there was hardly a table free – lunchtimes are less busy, but the atmosphere isn’t quite the same.

HOW ROMANTIC?

The perfect place to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or make yourself (or your loved one) feel that extra bit special. And with such a passionate chef, it feels like romance is infused into the food.

LIKED BY

Ortiz’s Twitter feed shows her with French president Emmanuel Macron. If the leader of the world’s most famous culinary country is a fan, that’s endorsement enough for us.