26-30 Elgin St, Soho, Central
Visited 19th May
After a huge day at the French Wine Fair it was time to regroup and debrief over a quiet dinner. I met Naomi and too exhausted to really think we grabbed at table at Caramba!, a brightly decorated Mexican restaurant in Soho. I enjoy the odd Mexican dish at home; tortilla heaped with fresh salad, sour cream, salsas and chicken or beans is a truly tasty experience. Mexican food however is not a cuisine that I hold in particularly high regard; Naomi on the other hands loves it, having spent time travelling in Mexico and eating heaps in the States. She enjoys the simple, fresh ingredients; I reckon it lacks variety, depth and refinement.
After having slurped and spat wine all afternoon I went straight for a big glass of water and, after a brief look at the drink list, stuck with it. The beers were expensive, wine selection average and the cocktails tequila based (the only spirit I don't particularly like). Naomi ordered chicken enchiladas and I chose Caesar salad with grilled prawns. Naomi's baked enchiladas were stuffed with tasty chicken and topped with guacamole and only a tiny waft of sour cream. They were served atop rice and some off putting black beans that stunk of sweet, artificial BBQ sauce. Though it was OK, I felt that at $128 this dish was well over priced; there are plenty of places along Elgin St were you can get a steak for a similair amount. My Caesar salad was disappointing. Though the dressing was pretty good, the croutons mentioned on the menu were missing, the parmesan was just a couple of slivers and the prawns; well there were just four of them for an additional $40. A few bits of dressed lettuce with a little cheese and four prawns isn't what I call a good meal.
For big groups looking to suck on beers and munch corn chips or those craving Mexican food Caramba! could be worth a visit, but for everyone else not. The service was average, the food uninspiring and both meals and drinks grossly over priced. The menu was limited to basic 'classics'; eg. the stuff you could make better at home. Surely the niche of Mexican restaurants is cheap, cheerful food accompanied by plenty of affordable beer? Sadly Caramba! did absolutely nothing to convince me of the merits of Mexican cuisine.
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