Well, after many years of Mexican being heralded as the next big thing in the UK foodservice market it would seem its time has finally come. Having been in foodservice marketing for fourteen years I can recall many a debate at the NRA show with my British counterparts on the issue of ‘will the UK follow the US when it comes to Mexican cuisine?’. The stock answer was very much a ‘probably not, just look at the demographic of the US population, of course Mexican food is popular, the UK is very different, I can’t seeing it taking off over here.’ Oh how they must be eating their words now, as in 2015 our appetite for Mexican eclipses all other cuisines it would seem. In fact Mexican food has overtaken Indian in the ready meal wars with spend up 12.8% to £264million in one year*. Mexican cuisine is now an established out of home flavour trend observed by the likes of Horizons, Technomic and Allegra, with restaurants including Wahaca, Chipotle, Tortilla and Las Iguanas dominating our high streets.
It’s nice therefore to see that in this sea of chains there are some stand-out independents. One such restaurant is Comensal on The Abbeville Road in Clapham Common. It is run by John Sim and Cati Bego, who met in Mexico City in 2013 and decided to bring a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine to the UK. With all the food freshly prepared by an in-house team of Mexican chefs, Comensal positions itself as ‘an authentic taste of modern Mexico, in a leafy neighbourhood setting’.
Now I might never have found this South London gem had they not taken it upon themselves to leaflet the local area offering complementary margaritas for local residents coming for the first time when it opened last June – so firstly congratulations on your launch marketing. This proactive approach led my friend who lives a few streets away to suggest an evening out to sample what this new addition to Clapham’s foodie scene had to offer.
Well, all I can say is one year on I am a complete convert and have been back numerous times, tempted by the huge (I’m not joking) bowls of delicious homemade guacamole and tortilla chips, not to mention the amazing margaritas, fabulous Mexican street food and naughty, but very nice, churros. With its relaxed atmosphere and great food it’s good to see they are holding their own against the big boys by offering a more personal approach and possibly the best Mexican food I have ever eaten. So although I may still be seen in a Wahaca now and again (I love their Hibiscus Mojitos) my heart lies in Clapham with Comensal.
Next time you find yourself in Clapham make sure you drop in to enjoy this vibrant independent Mexican restaurant, you won’t regret it! www.comensal.co.uk (Indeed, if there is any justice in the world they should definitely win ‘Best Newcomer’ in the Time and Leisure Magazine food and drink awards 2015 – I for one have voted for them.)