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Kol: British freshness that tastes of Mexico

By: Florencia Denti

After two lockdowns we finally managed to secure a dinner reservation at Kol, certainly one of the most celebrated restaurants nowadays in the UK and a place I had been looking forward to trying out ever since Santiago Lastra, chef and founder of Kol, did a residency at Carousel in 2018.

Having worked in some of the best restaurants in the world such as Mugaritz in Spain, Lastra became world renowned after taking on the role as René Redzepi’s right hand at Noma Mexico. As in the later, which believes in conscious dining and is committed to using local produce, Kol seeks to recreate Mexican flavours using fresh and seasonal British ingredients.

Kol and its Mezcaleria’s two-story headquarters are located on Marylebone Portman Square in London, in a former police station turned Mexican dream by London-based studio A-nrd. As soon as you step in the atmosphere is warm and welcoming and you are greeted by Totomoxtle, a large-scale corn husk marquetry artwork by Mexican designer Fernando Laposse. The interior design, trendy and minimalistic, has numerous elements that transport you to Mexico through details such as the colourful walls of Luis Barragan, the exotic jungle vegetation and the beautiful crafts produced in our country. The centre point of the dinning room is an open kitchen where you can see the chefs in action preparing beautiful and intricate dishes is an incredible homage to what the kitchen represents to Mexicans: the heart of our homes.

You can pick either a 6- or 9-course menu in which you have a choice of main dishes (we had the octopus and marrow tacos and I highly recommend them). The food is an adaptation of Mexican classics such as aguachile, tacos, tostadas and tamales, all of them incorporating British seasonal and wild produce that works amazingly well as it adds the uniqueness and freshness characteristic of Mexican cuisine. In fact, the only ingredients brought over from Mexico are chocolate, chillies and corn (which is the base of most of the dishes served) and these are sourced from indigenous producers in Mexico. There is so much to love from the menu, specially the fact that Lastra has included a lot of seafood, something that Britain has so much to offer but somehow it feels like we don’t get enough of in our day to day life (special mention of the langoustine taco). The menu can be paired with a selection of unique mezcales, tequilas, wines and raicillas or some of the cocktails designed by former American head bartender Maxim Schulte.

Kol is a celebration to creativity that goes from food to art. Not only reminding us of the union between both countries, Kol goes the extra mile by showcasing selected artworks, both folk and contemporary, of British and Mexican designers and artisans. In the decoration as well as in the crockery we can find collaborations with several young UK was Mexican designers such as: Andrea Roman, Lucia Ocejo, Cara Guthrie and Rebecca Proctor amongst others. Restrictions keep on easing so make your bookings as soon as you can! 

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