Without wishing to insult anyone, the way I see it, Mexican cuisine doesn’t require all that much thought – at least, not when it comes to executing the pretty basic dishes that ex-pats demand. What it does need, mind you, is a little bit of know-how and a bag of good ingredients. Amazingly, that’s something beyond the meagre capabilities of most of the impostors in this town. La Sirena get it right, as do a handful of others, but by and large we’re witness to fifth-rate charlatans that serve tortillas from a packet and tip their salsa from a jar – you’re being charged for something you could do better yourself. For this reason, there’s nothing like the arrival of a good Mexican to get Warsaw talking. Margarita Kolendra is just that, a place that’s energized the city in a rare, vivid manner.
That’s not to say it promises much: first impressions reveal a venue that looks like it wasn’t so much put together on the cheap as it was put together overnight. In essence, you’re left eyeing a sparse white room emboldened by a vulgar assortment of garish, peasant fabrics – there’ll be no design prizes here. There is, however, a pretty high chance it’ll earn gongs for its food.
Though limited and restrictive, the menu is one of those magic works of passion so rarely seen on Warsaw’s Mexican map. Yes they’re fundamentally simple and straight-forward, but these are dishes delivered with real dash and spirit: a variety of quesadillas with fresh, zingy salsa, a choice of chilaquiles (lightly fried corn tortillas topped with either chicken, beef or egg), and a small range of tacos that threaten to enter into legend – if in doubt, order the Al Pastor. Not that ordering is easy. With neither English nor Polish spoken (not over our three visits, anyhow), the whole process plunges into a bizarre series of hand gestures. Does that matter? Definitely not. (AW)
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