Casa Negra is a new modern Mexican restaurant that opened recently in Shoreditch. It’s the younger sister to Soho’s infamous sex shop themed celeb haunt La Bodega Negra. I haven’t actually been to the original so can’t really make comparisons, the first thing I will say is that you won’t find neon sex shop signs here. I found the entrance surprisingly unassuming (you wouldn’t even have known the basement bar was more than a service entrance, had it not have been for the give-away hipster holding a guest list on the street outside.)
We headed into the basement for a frozen margaritas before our meal. Arriving at 7pm on a sunny June day and being thrust into near darkness was a slightly awkward experience and I couldn’t help thinking that drinking a frozen cocktail on a rooftop might have been more fitting. Fun interiors soon had my mind changed though, with piñatas hanging from the ceiling and a weird futuristic landscape fashioned from cardboard adorning the walls, there is a nice home-made vibe to this place. They kept it authentic with the staff too, who have clearly been recruited in Dalston as they all have fabulously trendy hair and a very laid-back east London attitude.
After a drink downstairs we went to sit in the ‘family room’ of the restaurant above. This is where the kitchen is, and has only one family sized table, which seats around 20 people, I would recommend sitting in here, it has the same laid-back, communal vibe as the basement bar. We ordered guacamole and chips to start, and the guacamole was light, fresh and creamy just as it should be. Followed with the ‘Queso Fundido’ and ‘Lengua’. The former being what I imagine is the Mexican take on a Swiss cheese fondue. Topped with chorizo and served with mini tortillas for dipping, it’s a great sharing dish. The informative waitress who served us recommended the second dish, it was a beef tongue taco and as she had said it would be it was worth the risk to try something new. We followed the smaller courses with the signature dish ‘Carnitas de Lechon’ (suckling pig), The pork was succulent, tender but perhaps could have been served with more than just tortillas, coriander and guacamole. I would recommend ordering at least one side dish; we went with ‘Frijoles Charros’ a Mexican baked bean and bacon dish that went very well.
For dessert we had the ‘Flan de Naranja;’ which I would highly recommend as it was delicious. We also had ‘Alfajores’ which are vanilla cookies, very similar to macaroons but with Dulce de Leche in the centre. These were a little disappointing and slightly dry. But would probably have gone better with a coffee than a Paloma, when the cocktail menu had so many great options though, it was hard to think about ordering anything else to drink. So we ordered a few more cocktails, and discussed how enjoyable it is to find a menu that is designed for sharing and for once, not to have felt awkward about it.
Casa Negra is on Great Eastern Street, for booking and enquires you can find them online at http://www.casanegra.co.uk/