Edgy moments are few, even if Ronan Keating’s solo career clearly ruffled the odd feather and the death of Stephen Gately remains understandably raw. It’s anodyne fare, although the group do seem like pleasant enough chaps and it’s hard to take against them as individuals. So let’s just say that this showcase is as certain to please old fans as it is unlikely to convert new ones.
On my visit, all the waitresses at this upscale Mexican restaurant were wearing flowery, Frida Kahlo-esque headbands. The headbands were cute – everyone who works at Ella Canta is both beautiful and beautifully turned out – but cartoonish, and curiously cheesy for a place where the average main course costs £26. That’s symptomatic of this restaurant, which feels a bit confused. Set on the ground floor of the Intercontinental Park Lane hotel, the decor is luscious, with dusky pink walls, spiked mirrors and lots of fat, green cacti. But still, Ella Canta can’t escape the hotel vibes: the room is awkwardly shaped, with windows that look out on to busy Park lane, along which the occasional tour bus trundles. There’s a playlist of what can only be described as Mexican lounge music. And those headbands. Just like the space, the food was Mexican-by-way-of-fancy-London-hotel. Take the ceviche vampiro, a beautiful piece of fish spoiled by being topped by a Michelin-baiting scoop of sorbet. Black cod was photogenic, and sprinkled with teeny, delicate oyster leaves, but was actually over-salted, served on a bed of greasy ‘burnt mayonnaise’. Octopus came on a plate dotted with chi-chi little blobs of alternately smoky, then creamy sauce. That sauce was delicious – why put it in a blob? Tellingly, the best dish was a plate of Ella Canta’s round, thick, wonderfully plain tortilla chips. This restaurant is going for sensuous magical realism; sometimes that works, like when they bring the
Venue says: “Las Posadas December 12-24! Eat like you have broken open the piñata and are catching its cascading treasures. Let the flavours burst!”