It’s been a long time coming, but, having consumed a small herd in the past year or so, I think I am over burgers. I am hereby, in writing and immortalised on Foozie, pledging my allegiance to tacos.
The Hillgrove Porter Stores, located on Dove Street just a stone’s throw (and a thigh-burning stomp up Nine Tree Hill) from Gloucester Road, is a proper pub. The kind that makes me want a pickled egg shaken in a bag of crisps. There’s a cracking selection of guest beers, currently including my old friend Jaipur from Thornbridge, and it’s the new home FOR THIS WEEK ONLY of The Plumed Serpent Cantina. These friendly folks serve up marvellous Mexican fare with a rustic feel. Having missed their pop up at BrewDog, it is fair to say I was extremely excited to finally tuck into a selection of their best bits.
We started off with crispy fried tortilla chips (Dorito who?)! Piled up with chunky chilli and lime guacamole, I was in heaven. What’s more, we were given a selection of three salsas: the classic fresh salsa pico de gallo, a refreshing and tangy salsa verde and a seriously fiery salsa rojo. Heartbreakingly the Armadillo eggs (cheese stuffed jalapeños wrapped in pork, before you get in a tizz) had sold out. But it’s okay! That just means I’ll have to go back. Just as we’d finishing chipping and dipping, a selection of treats arrived. Immediately drawn in by the scent, I started with the evening’s special.
Just as we’d finishing chipping and dipping, a selection of treats arrived. Immediately drawn in by the scent, I started with the evening’s special: onglet steak (often called hanger steak). The beef was cooked simply and sliced to show off a lovely rare middle, served with a squeeze of lime and baby coriander, which is approximately 10,000 times cuter than normal coriander. It melted in the mouth with bags of flavour, so good I had to give chef Ed a hug afterwards, but we’ll blame that on the Jaipur.
On to the main event. The tacos were beautifully presented topped with coriander, pickled jalapeños and radish. I started with the chicken pibil tacos which came with tangy pickled red onion. The chicken was moist but I didn’t get a lot of flavour from the traditional Yucatán dish. Thankfully the accompaniments gave it a lift, especially the punchy salsa rojo. The red onion was a great addition as it cut through the meatiness.
The lamb barbacoa tacos were deliciously rich and smoky. What made this dish, however, was the refreshing ‘crema’ drizzle. An additional nice touch was the scattering of pomegranate seeds… a perfect touch of crunch to the soft, slow-cooked meat.
Really appreciated was the pot of refried black beans that accompanied our meal. It was hearty and flavoursome and thoughtfully topped with creamy feta and coriander. DELICIOUS!
My lucky plus one was one of those gluten-free types. So, like the good friend I am, I treated myself to some fish tacos which were covered in a light, crispy batter. The fish inside was perfectly cooked and was spot on with a dollop of salsa. I loved the chipotle slaw that came with it! It was crunchy and fresh although I wouldn’t have minded a little more as it got a bit lost amongst other elements.
The grand finale was the flourless chocolate cake with margarita ice cream. Safe to say, my gluten-free friend was over the moon about this! Rather intrigued by this odd choice of flavour combo, I was pleasantly surprised! The margarita worked really well as an ice cream. Normally, you’d expect this flavour to be used a sorbet but trust me, it worked!
Overall the Plumed Serpent really impressed. The attention to detail was commendable and I adored their steak! The accompanying sauces were all delicious and well balanced; a great way to tweak each taco to personal taste. They’re at the Hillgrove for this week only (8th – 12th Sept 2015) and also making an appearance at the Foozie supperfest in collaboration with Flow.
Keep up to date with their pop-ups on Facebook or @ThePSCantina
If you need me, I’ll be spending this afternoon badgering Ed and co. for that cake recipe.