16 August 2014

Bulldogs and Fish Tacos

I had the day off work yesterday and decided to continue my hunt for a 1950s dress to wear to Secret Cinema's Back to the Future screening, which I will be attending later this month. Sadly, I didn't find the perfect frock, but I did discover new places to eat and to caffeinate in London E1.

I've long been a fan of Wahaca, which serves reasonably priced but fast and tasty Mexican food in colourful surroundings. Now, the folks behind Wahaca have a new diner located in the Old Truman Brewery. It's called DF/Mexico, which is the short form of Mexico City's official name: México, D.F. (distrito federal). A little cooler, a little more urban and a little more modern than Wahaca, DF/Mexico is a welcome new addition to London's Mexican food scene.

After I was shown to my table — marked with a brass cut-out of the number 35, to which the waitress attached a padlock to show the table was in use — I browsed the menu with its colourful neon pops. The burritos sounded great, but working near Leather Lane means I already have access to good burritos, so I went for the fish tacos (£6.95). With the tacos, you can also order a side dish for an extra £1.75, so I ordered the cup of cord, with sweetcorn, lime, mayo and cheese.

When you are ready to order, you head over to the counter, where you can either give your order to a Real Person or use the the self-service iPad. The latter was free, so I typed in what I wanted and was all set. I also ordered a bottomless hibiscus agua fresca (£2.30), and was handed a chunky recycled-glass glass and headed over to the drink refill station. Later, I tried the lime and chia agua fresca too, but the hibiscus was my favourite.

The food arrived very swiftly and the tacos were amazing. You get two large soft tacos in the order, and each one came with a generous-sized portion of panko-crumbed cod, resting on a base of red slaw, and drizzled with chipotle mayo. Needless to say, they were awesome. I just wished I had room for some of the soft-serve ice cream, which comes with one of several different toppings — the dulce de leche and candied peanut one sounded amazing.

Meanwhile, the décor is very cool — very Shoreditch, but in a good way — with reclaimed-wood bench seating, pops of neon yellow, and giant jars housing succulent plants. If you're on Brick Lane and want some fast, tasty Mexican food, this is the place to go.

After lunch, I was in need of a coffee pick-me-up, so I walked over to the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street. Ace Hotels are seriously cool. Their Manhattan branch houses New York City's first branch of Stumptown Coffee, and the Shoreditch hotel comes with a similar coffee pedigree in the form of Bulldog Edition. I walked through the sleek, MacBook Air-packed lobby bar of the hotel and into the coffee bar.

Bulldog doesn't do pourovers or Aeropress but they made me something that tasted quite similar to an Aeropress brew by running a shot slowly through the espresso machine at low temperature. I chose a Costan Rican variety from Square Mile, and took a seat while I waited for the knowledgeable baristas to prepare my drink.

I haven't had coffee brewed in this way before but I was really impressed. It tasted rich and smooth, although very slightly muddy (I think I've just become a 'clearness' snob after my Clever Dripper experiences!). In any case, it was delicious and just what I needed to perk me up for the rest of my vintage shopping attempts.

I also had one of the pecan crisp cookies. I didn't realise until it arrived that 'crisp' meant there were actual crisps (potato chips, for the Yanks out there) on top of the cookie, but surprisingly, it really worked, giving a nice sweet–salty contrast.

DF/Mexico. Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR (Tube: Shoreditch High Street Overground or Liverpool Street). Website. Twitter.

Bulldog Edition at the Ace Hotel. 100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ (Tube: Shoreditch High Street Overground). Website. Twitter

UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 2020): Bulldog Edition and the Ace Hotel have permanently closed.

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