Address: 5 Langley Street, Covent Garden, London
Price: Margaritas £5.75 each but well worth it, main courses about £10
*Exclusive Champagne Charlie Toilet Niceness Rating*: n/a Too busy to go.
I have nostalgic memories of Café Pacifico. Once when I was little my dad took me down to London for the day, and gallantly dragged me from museum to museum. While I think the aim was to open my mind to the works of Constable, Rembrant or Turner etc., all I actually remember is him accidentally abandoning me at every tube barrier on the underground. Whooshing off with Grade A commuter speed, many a time I was left peeking over the giant barriers, calling out something like “No Daddy, please! wait!” in a feeble and panicked voice.
That, and the magnificent Café Pacifico. Mexican was my first foreign food that wasn’t Chinese or Indian, and Café Pacifico with my Dad was my first restaurant meal without a “kid’s table” cramping my style. The portions were vast and piping hot, my dad ordered enough food to allow us both to hibernate over winter, and everything came smothered in melted cheese, nachos, and loads of jalapeños, which I don’t think you’re strictly meant to give to small children, but I LOVED it. I’ve been back many times since and it’s always been the same. Hot, fiery, cheesy, lovely stuff.
Except this time I went back, and something was wrong. Something was very wrong. The atmosphere was how it has always has been – busy and a bit deafening. On a Friday after work it was completely rammed, but that didn’t matter because the staff are so fun and nice that you’d basically do whatever they told you to. They kindly shepherded us over to the bar for a couple of truly restorative and punchy margaritas. So far, so good.
Then we got to our table, had a few handfuls of nachos with a tasty, fresh salsa to balance the margarita:food ratio, and ordered but DE DUH DEHHHHHH! What was that sauce? Bleurrrghhh! Pah! etc. I have looked it up for the purpose of this review, and it was, apparently, ‘enchilada sauce’. Could have fooled me… Trying to describe how it tasted is impossible – sort of really sweet, and a bit sicky, but with a burnt, claggy, tangy aftertaste. It was actually a bit like when my friend and I tried to make ‘mole’ about 5 years ago, but decided it tasted really strongly of gas, and added some Cadburys to it by means of improvement…. Either way, it was not good. Not good at all.
As a consequence I have literally no idea how the food underneath its furry orange vom-blanket actually tasted. Guacamole? It was an island of green in a sea of noxious enchilada sauce. Refried beans? Nien. Identifiable only by their dental records.
The only silver lining to the enchilada sauce was that I had to drink lots more margaritas to burn the taste away, and can confirm that those really are very good indeed. So, I don’t know what to make of Café Pacifico for now. Do I gut-wrenchingly degrade it to a drinks only haunt, good enough for nachos and a nightcap, but nothing more? Or do I give it a second chance, aware of the potential for two-fold heartbreak? (In the voice of Our Graham..) The decision, is yours…
If you think I should go back comment ‘YES, PEOPLE CAN CHANGE!’ underneath, choosing something from the Café Pacifico menu here that you’d like me to try.
If you think there comes a point where you have to protect yourself, comment ‘NO’ obviously, or ‘WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!’ instead.
Finally to add an extra twist to the tale, my second favourite childhood restaurant of all time ‘Ed’s Diner’, (of Bluewater shopping centre fame) is just around the corner from my office. If anyone knows anything about it, please tell me. I’d love to revisit that too, and the Elvis Presley on the website is encouraging, I just don’t know if I can take this a second time…