Wahaca Test Kitchen Launches
Wahaca, the Mexican restaurant group founded by Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, has launched a new Test Kitchen restaurant on Tabernacle Street, Shoreditch.
A driving force in bringing Mexican food and culture to the UK since opening in Covent Garden in 2007, Wahaca’s new Shoreditch restaurant will act as an innovation platform to develop new ideas and recipes – with the ambition of taking many of the dishes created to the group’s restaurants around the UK.
Taking inspiration from her recent trips to Mexico City, Oaxaca and the Yucatan will allow Tommi and her team to bring to life their interpretations of contemporary Mexican cooking. As well as continuing to feature Wahaca classics such as the iconic pork pibil tacos, Tommi and the team have developed a whole host of new dishes, including ‘Blackened cauliflowers tacos with cashew nut mole’ and Market Boards for sharing including ‘Whole roast sea bream with al ajillo butter & kohlrabi slaw’.
Tommi and her team are also collaborating with El Banco Nino to produce bespoke, traditionally-made nixtamalized corn tortillas that use non-GMO corn and are naturally gluten free. Wahaca will continue to work with small producers like Trealy Farm for their sobrasada, a Mexican-style chorizo and Jude’s ice cream. Traditional Mexican cooking techniques will continue to be at the forefront of the menu, featuring moles and charred slaws, which are set to change seasonally and as and when new experiments allow.
Commenting on the launch, Tommi Miers said: “Wahaca has always been at the forefront of innovation, bringing new Mexican dishes to the UK and after ten years we’re hugely excited to have this new Test Kitchen to help us continue to push the boundaries and find new ways to explore the incredible variety of vibrant flavours and ingredients from Mexico’s extraordinary range of cuisines.”
To compliment the food, a vibrant drinks list includes ‘Basil Mazcalitas and Jalapeno Margaritas, as well as a selection of low-sugar Agua Frescas and mouth-watering mojitos – the drink of choice in the bars of Mexico City. There will also be a range of 21 tequila and mezcals to discover, as part of Wahaca’s continued mission to champion these incredible Mexican spirits.
The new restaurant seats 120 and, as with all Wahaca restaurants, the design has been inspired by the neighbourhood that it is in as well as the heritage of the building itself. The space is laid out over two levels, with a central communal table and open kitchen letting guests see the chefs at work. Street art murals from Lelo, a renowned street artist from Zaachila in Oaxaca Mexico adorn the walls.
Harriet Helps, Project Designer at Softroom, who completed the design of the new Wahaca site said: “It was over a year ago that Wahaca showed us the site and we began working on the concept for this new venture. We were fortunate that the existing building was able to provide a rich backdrop of textures and original features. We wanted the design to be a light touch on the existing fabric with a more ‘loose-fit’ approach. The use of a few key materials and colours that enhanced the original building rather than layering in too much was the intension with our design approach.
“The restaurant is on two levels, set over the ground and basement with roughly 60 covers on each level. The space offers a variety of dining environments especially with the large external area to the front which seats around 30. Each space is modest in size providing a more intimate dining experience, especially within the basement which is broken into a number of smaller spaces, which are enhanced by the unique street art and intimate lighting. A large communal table for around 18-20 is a great space for parties and eating into the night.
“Upstairs has a lighter and fresher feel where views are offered through an existing arched opening into the open kitchen to give a simple connection with the kitchen activity. We have retained the original fire station white glazed tiles which provide the backdrop to the new loose furniture, planting and bespoke fittings.”
Beyond the architecture and interiors, the brand itself has been refreshed for Shoreditch’s Wahaca Test Kitchen, going back to the inspiration of contemporary Mexican creativity and culture, and paying homage to the nation’s imagery, including bright colours and traditional symbols. The Shoreditch restaurant also sees the introduction of a digital bill tablet, which allows guests to give immediate feedback on the dishes they have just enjoyed.
Wahaca Shoreditch opened on Monday 27th November 2017 and is located at 140 Tabernacle Street, London, EC24 4SD.