“I love colours, contrasting flavours and powerful spices that go wild in your mouth,” says Martha Ortiz, the chef behind Mexico City’s Dulce Patria (named on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2017), and whose first London restaurant is opening in Park Lane’s InterContinental Hotel on Friday September 15.
Ella Canta (Spanish for “She Sings”) will feature several of the dishes from the Dulce Patria menu, and host a small street-food-style space dedicated to cocktails, quesadillas and salsas. “In Mexico, some of the best food is eaten on the streets – like tamales,” says Ortiz. A common ingredient in some regional Mexican streetfood is chapulines (grasshoppers), and they will make an appearance in the guacamole nacionalista (alongside ricotta and pomegranate seeds), while Ortiz will also offer her take on the traditional Mexican soup of pozole, which is usually made with pork, but here is built around seafood and lobster.
The menu will also showcase mole (the rich cacao-tinged sauce that is said to date back to the 16th century), with a tasting menu featuring seven varieties of the dressing, each of which contains 20-30 ingredients and can take at least a day to make. “Every cook has their own type of mole that has been passed down from generation to generation and varies depending on which region they’re from,” says Ortiz, one of whose moles for Ella Canta will be a black version served with duck, plantain purée and red rice. “Mole negro is made with ingredients from Oaxaca, such as black chillies, spices and chocolate. It has an ashy flavour – its tastes like the night.”
Other dishes will include a “vampire ceviche” with mango and sangrita sorbet; cangrejo de concha (soft shell crab) with citrus marinate and pineapple salad; and puffed corn tortillas filled with pork skin, coriander and powdered salt from the chicatana ant. Among the desserts will be Papantla-style fritters with pine-tree honey and vanilla ice cream, and a baked custard dish topped with edible gold leaf and red carnation jam, while the interiors (which have been overseen by David Collins Studio) reference Ortiz’s favourite artists, particularly Frida Kahlo. “It’s going,” she declares, “to be Mexico in London.”