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Lisa Teoh was at the opening of
Down Mexico Way, London W1

Please note: Down Mexico Way is no more. It has been replaced by Destino - please see an up todate review at

Down Mexico Way is a choice place to go if you want an atmospheric and fun night out. It has a terrific central location just off the lower end of Regent Street, Piccadilly, and is housed in a fabulous Sevillian tiled 3-storey building. The tiles were commissioned in 1926 by the then King of Spain, as at the time, the first Spanish restaurant outside of Spain occupied the site. The decor really is amazing and deserves time to appreciate it fully.

On the ground floor is a Bar and Nightclub, which we sadly didn't get to sample as the prospect of missing the last tube loomed. However, it was filling up and rocking with Latin beats as we left. Apparently, free Salsa lessons are given between 6 and 8 p.m. Wednesday to Friday.

The top floor houses the Salon Azul, which is a perfect venue for larger parties. With its bar, live Latin bands and dancing I can well imagine it being popular for Stag or Hen nights and Birthday parties. Here the decor is contemporary, but manages to compliment the Mosaics found on the other two floors and continues the Latin theme.

The main restaurant is found on the first floor in the Salon Dorado and this is where we ate. The Bald One had stood me up (can you imagine being stood up by your own husband?) so I went with a girlfriend and we had a terrific time. The service was friendly and efficient and the menu reasonably comprehensive. We were greeted with a bottle of still water and a small plate of blueberry nachos (sweetish in flavour) with peppers and mango. There was an interesting range of starters, which included five salads that could alternatively be ordered as main courses. I plumped for the goats cheese with roasted tomato and cactus leaves whilst my girlfriend had a shredded duck salad. Her choice was more successful than mine, as my dish really suffered for being served without bread. The cactus leaves were a disappointment: they had the appearance of sliced green peppers but absolutely no taste of their own.

For a main course, I had a chicken Fajita and my friend the tequila and lime glazed poussin. Both our meats were cooked to perfection, being beautifully marinated and tenderly moist - quite a feat for a Fajita! The accompaniments to the Fajita were disappointing though, being fridge-cold refried beans, and fairly tasteless pico de gallo and guacamole. But there were four flour tortillas, which was ample for the amount of chicken. The poussin was enjoyed and had the interesting accompaniment of deep fried baby corn.

For pudding, we shared a selection of fresh fruits with coconut ice cream, all of which were good quality, and a caramel and passionfruit mousse cake. The latter was very unexciting, reminding us both of "Angel Delight".

It's billed as a restaurant for a quiet, romantic dinner, but I have to say that for most people, live, energetic Latin music punctuated by deafening taped music to accompany the floor show of Salsa dancing is not the ideal accompaniment to seduction over the Fajitas! Overall, Down Mexico Way is a place to visit for a fun evening's entertainment rather than a memorable meal. But go with a group of friends and you will certainly enjoy yourselves.

Lisa Teoh May 1999

Starters £2.50-£4.50
Salads £4.00
Starter/side £8.00
Main Fajitas £9.50 -£13.00
Main courses £10.00-£13.00 (including 5 vegetarian)
Puddings £4.00
Cocktails£4.50 Wine £12.00-£30.00

Down Mexico Way, 25 Swallow Street, W1R 7HD09



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