04 October 2017

Top-Notch Tacos at Santo Remedio, London Bridge

I didn't get the opportunity to visit Santo Remedio before its original Shoreditch location closed down, so I was delighted to hear that following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the modern Mexican restaurant was back — and much closer to my Bermondsey home. The new restaurant opened a few weeks ago and although it can be difficult to book a table (most tables are reserved for walk-ins but you may wish to consider booking in advance during busy times), my friend and I secured a booking for a weekday evening last week.

Santo Remedio occupies the former site of Magdalen, a family favourite of ours and one of the venues where I celebrated my 30th birthday. Located on Tooley Street, closer to the Tower Bridge end but less than ten minutes' walk from London Bridge station, the restaurant takes up the ground two floors of a red-brick building. Inside, it is surprisingly bright: there are a few tables next to the gorgeous blue-tiled bar in the first room, while the back room is colourful and creatively decorated. From next month, they will serve cocktails and bar snacks in the upstairs cantina.

The menu is concise: there are five types of tacos, as well as guacamole and salsa to start, and three side dishes. There were also several specials, including both larger dishes and smaller bites. The drinks menu included a couple of cocktails — one margarita and one mezcalita (£8.50 and £9.50, respectively) — and several wines, beers and soft drinks. My friend ordered the margarita and I went for the mezcalita — my trip to Oaxaca in 2015 gave me a taste for the agave-based spirit. Santo Remedio's cocktail came with cucumber, parsley, pineapple and jalapeƱo, a perfect combination of sharp, sweet and smooth flavours.

A little unsure how much food we would need, we began ordering up a storm. We wanted to try the guacamole topped with grasshoppers but unfortunately, the grasshoppers had hopped off; the regular guacamole (£6) was delicious, although the portion was only just enough for two people (in particular, it would have been nice to have a few more corn tortilla chips).

Between us, we then ordered two sets of tacos (carnitas caramelised with orange juice and Coca-Cola from the main menu (£9) and the special soft-shell crab (£12)), a side of elote (grilled corn with butter, lime, smoky mayo and Pecorino cheese; £4.50), and two of the special sides: chicken wings (£5) and barbacoa beef croquetas (£5.50). This turned out to be plenty of food for the two of us, although I was a little disappointed not to have room for the churros for dessert.

Each dish was delicious and bursting with flavour. I ate two-thirds of the pork tacos, which were incredibly flavoursome. I also tried one of the soft-shell crab tacos — not something I would usually order — and it also tasted great. The croquetas were a bit like the nicest variety of beef Wellington I've ever tried and had a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Meanwhile, the elote was perhaps the star of the show; it was so moreish, I could probably have eaten both halves of the portion. If I had to pick a weak item, it would be the chicken wings, but they were still very good and I'm not a big chicken-wing fan anyway (too much effort for too little pay-off).

The service was friendly and efficient. Unprompted, the manager took the guacamole off the bill when we explained that we were disappointed we hadn't been told there were no grasshoppers (we weren't sure if they were so well combined into the guac that our palates couldn't detect them, and so it was only when we saw the bill that we knew we'd been given the regular version), which was a completely unnecessary but thoughtful thing to do.

Although we sampled almost half of the dishes on the menu, I'm keen to return soon to Santo Remedio to try the rest — and to get my fix of the delicious elote. Great Mexican food used to be impossible to find in the London Bridge area and now, with both El Pastor and Santo Remedio, we locals are spoiled for choice.

Santo Remedio. 152 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU (Tube: London Bridge). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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