Tried & Tested

Restaurant review: Ella Canta, Intercontinental Park Lane

2 Oct 2017 by Tom Otley
Restaurant review: Ella Canta, Intercontinental Park Lane

Background

This is a new restaurant from Chef Martha Ortiz; well-known in Mexico for her restaurant Dulce Patria in Mexico City, though perhaps less so here.

The restaurant name is Spanish for ‘she sings’, and the intention is to “blend ancient cooking traditions with contemporary style”.

The new restaurant and bar is the second fine dining venue at the hotel which also has Theo Randall at the Intercontinental. It is run by Ortiz as Chef Patron, working alongside executive chef of the Intercontinental London Park Lane, Ashley Wells, and head chef, Elias Silva Resinas.

Restaurant review: Ella Canta, Intercontinental Park Lane

Where is it?

In the Intercontinental Park Lane. You can access it from the hotel lobby, but there is a separate entrance on the corner of Park Lane and Piccadilly. If you are getting there by the underground you could use either Hyde Park Corner or Green Park stations.

Restaurant review: Ella Canta, Intercontinental Park Lane

The venue

The design by the David Collins Studio and creative director Simon Rawlings makes the most of a space which is long, fairly thin, and has the disadvantage of windows which look out onto the unattractive lower end of Park Lane which is more like a motorway than a lane.

The restaurant is very unusual in design, and I can’t do better than quote from the press release:

“Strong shapes, soft colours and clean lines celebrate the architecture of Ricardo Legorreta, ceramics of Gustavo Perez and textures of Ernesto Alva. A palette of blush pink, sun-bleached red, blue and tan reflects the architecture and landscapes of Oaxaca, while a hand-carved, floor-to-ceiling walnut installation runs the full length of the restaurant to the bar, inspired by the work of Mexican furniture designer Eugenio Escudero.”

It felt very Seventies to me, but in a good way. You can see some more pictures in the Flickr slideshow below or by clicking this link

The drinks

The restaurant is designed so that you walk past the tables on the right (and this walnut installation – see above) and then ascend a few stairs to the bar which is on an upper level (Park Lane is on a slope). The lighting was very impressive, helped by a slow late summer sunset coming in through the windows. The bar has a series of deep shelves containing bottles of mezcals and tequilas.

The bar has a seating area to the left, though I sat at the bar so I could watch my cocktail being made. It was just as well as I did, since the one I chose – Ancho Negroni– was quite complicated to navigate, though delicious. All of the signature cocktails are entitled “Mexico’s Gifts to the World”, which seems to be putting it a little high from a country that brought us chocolate.

The wine list has a strong Central and South-American focus, including wines from Hacienda La Lomita in northern Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe.

Restaurant review: Ella Canta, Intercontinental Park Lane

The food

The a la carte menu is short – with eight starter choices and nine main course choices, though it apparently has several dishes from the Mexico City restaurant while at the same time incorporating local produce from the UK – no mean feat.

For starters we had Sopa de frijol negro, chicharon y foi gras con mezcal (Velvety black bean soup, pork skin, foie gras with mezcal, £13) and Tostadas crocantes con escabeche de salmón, aguacate y chile chipotle  (Pickled salmon tostada, avocado, chile chipotle, £10).

The soup plate was scattered with colourful garnishes to add interest to what can be a slightly muddy looking soup.

Our main courses were Bacalao negro con papas ajillo guajillo (Black cod, potato, ajillo guajillo chile, £26) and Carnitas de cerdo al estilo Michoacán con salsa de chile de arbol  (Traditional Michoacán style pork carnitas, arbol chile salsa, £24).

The black cod was very moist and tasty and the potato was beautifully seasoned and perhaps a Charlotte or very tasty new potato. The accompanying cactus salad was much fresher than you might imagine, and the pork carnitas was delicious.

For dessert we had churros which were slightly disappointing – traditional caramel and chocolate and light enough but not out quite the wow of the rest of the food, though the final caramels and chocolates to accompany coffee were delicious.

The service

Friendly and informed. Recently I’ve had some fascinating conversations with the men and women who tend bars, and discovered so much information about the various ingredients going into cocktails (or why they choose a particular type of tonic water, if you are not a drinker).

The staff are smartly-dressed in clothing designed by British label 1947 “in shades of burnt orange, teal and powder blue, accessorised with vibrant floral headpieces”, so in the circumstances I wasn’t sorry I was wearing a suit.

The waiters were also very enthusiastic in describing the food and also in its presentation – the soup, for instance was added to the bowl from a small jug, in a very professional manner. It certainly beats having it slopped around the bowl as it is carried out from the kitchen.

Ella Canta

Verdict

I imagine most of us like Mexican food, so in one sense having a Mexican restaurant in a hotel is rather like having an Italian one: it’s not likely to offend anyone or excite them very much either. I hope that’s not the case with Ella Canta, because it really is something special, from the design and the choice of drinks through to the food.

Opening Hours

  • Monday to Friday: Lunch: 12pm–2.30pm | Dinner: 6pm–10.30pm
  • Saturday to Sunday: Brunch: 11.30am–2.30pm | Dinner: 6pm–10.30pm
  • Bar Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am – midnight; Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am–3am

Contact

Ella Canta, One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London W1J 7QY; +44 020 7318 8715; ellacanta.com

 

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