Casa Pastor heads to Kings Cross.
If you haven’t ventured over to Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross yet, put it on your to-do-list pronto. We visit on a rainy Friday evening and the area is unrecognisable these days. New shops, bars and restaurants bring new life (and bright lights) to a former no-go zone.
On this visit, we are heading to Casa Pastor, the new Mexican big sister to Borough’s El Pastor and Bermondsey’s Tortilleria El Pastor. The 80 cover restaurant focuses on tacos and other Mexican dishes including tostadas and larger sharing plates such as lamb barbacoa. A rotisserie spit-roasts spiced chickens, served as quarters, halves or whole with tortillas, salsas and chicken fat roasted onions, and refried beans, slaw and chiccharon de pollo available as sides. If that doesn’t tempt you then tortas buns can be filled with a selection of meat or vegetarian options from the robata grill.
On our visit we start with tequila cocktails. Of course. The mezcaleria bar takes pride of place in the centre of the restaurant, clad in emerald marble and serving an extended Margarita list made with El Jimador tequila. These include an Avocado and Passionfruit Margarita, a Hibiscus and Honeydew Margarita and a Lagerita, alongside the classic options and a seasonal monthly special which when we visit is a ‘Bramblarita’; a delicious blackberry purèe and tequila mix.
The design of both Casa and Plaza Pastor has been led by James Hart, working with Michaelis Boyd architects and Irving and Co. designers. As soon as we walk in we are struck by Casa Pastor’s original Victorian brick walls and vibrant Mexican murals, along with antique patterned tiles and tall, tropical trees. The front of the restaurant is dedicated to drinking and snacking, with brightly coloured bar tables and terracotta tile perches, while the main dining area has chocolate leather upholstered banquettes and India Mahdavi chairs, each one unique and playfully coloured. Tinted festoon lighting and antique glass wall lights create a relaxed atmosphere and it’s busy and buzzy.
So the drinks and the decor hit the spot, but we are there for the food. We start with a huge bowl of rustic guacamole and have to restrain ourselves as we have tuna tostados to follow, as well as Pastor De Pescado; delicious chargrilled stone bass and caramelised onions in a taco. Hot on its heels is the Al Pastor; the restaurant’s name-sake, a Mexican classic; 24 hour marinated pork shoulder, with caramelised pineapple. The food comes out when it’s ready, and we do wonder if we can fit it all on the table as we’ve typically over-ordered just a little. A butternut squash and Oaxaca cheese quesadilla in a blue nativo corn tortilla is filling and moorish and almost finishes us off.
Almost… as we then spot the dessert menu. Our extremely friendly and attentive waiters are very happy to point out their recommendations, for both margaritas and dessert (I do like a well-informed and enthusiastic restaurant ambassador!). We are told that the corn cake is amazing, and it does not disappoint. Served with roasted corn ice cream it’s comforting and hearty. As for the Bounty Bar, I defy anyone to manage a whole portion to themselves. Two chocolate, coconut and shortbread pieces that hit the spot but end the night as we cannot manage another morsel.
We’ll be back, though, as those margaritas won’t drink themselves.