Say ‘celebrity chef’ and most likely chirpy chappies, effing blonde blokes and Delia rallying for her football team spring to mind. But were you in Mexico, there’s one powerhouse who rules both the airwaves and the kitchen, Martha Ortiz, the owner of one of the best restaurants in South America and judge on Top Chef Mexico. And now she’s brought her pizzazz and fresh cooking to London’s Park Lane; we went along to Ella Canta as they partied spring break-style with their Tulum Brunch series.
Taking over the Intercontinental, Ella Canta’s aim is to bring authentic Mexican food to London; not the cheese-laden TexMex we’ve all come to know. A doorman ushers you into a reception, where what seem to be part-time models search for a reservation, before leading you into the blushed pink space. The design is a mix of both OTT and toned down: carved oak room dividers separate the more private, pastel dining booths from the circular dark tables of the main room, while our seating overlooks an island reserved solely for a ginormous flower display.
If celebrity chef had you in the first line, then the clientele will keep you, as the who’s who of Instagram donned flower crowns and bopped to the blonde DJ, herself spinning a playlist that had been curated by Tulum’s Coco Beach Club. Every now and then ‘Bamboléo’ would blast and three traditionally dressed dancers would spin around the restaurant in honour of the collaboration. For the dedicated brunch, the menu was kept simple with three courses, all light enough to scoff in their entirety.
Ceviche tropical de piña y robalo was a tender mix of seabass ceviche, with a tangy passion fruit sauce, and topped with shavings of chilli for added bite. It was the DIY Tacos de castacan that had me, as I stuffed charcoal grey tacos with the tender pork meat, adding a mix of pico de gallo and avocado to alternate between flavours. Bottomless margaritas are two words that make dreams come true, and with a choice of three signatures to slurp endlessly it was the Paloma that got multiple orders with a muddle of Patron Silver, grapefruit, lime, agave syrup and grapefruit soda.
The DesignMyNight Digest
It’s not enough to be a good cook when it comes to the world of celebrity cheffing, you’ve got to have a USP - whether that be the idiot sandwich or a killer wrap dress (Nigella, here’s looking at you). Ella Canta is as stylish as its chef patron, from the sunny, villa-style interiors through to the touches of brass and polished oak. Brunch is not the cheapest (£49 with bottomless drinks), but the cocktails are easy to knock back and the setting is straight from an exclusive beach club, perfect for a special occasion.
Ella Canta is hosting the Tulum Brunch Special on Saturday 15th June and 20th July, 11.30am - 4pm. The brunch costs £49 per person with bottomless drinks and three courses, or £39 with bottomless agua frescas.