Sunday 1 December 2013

Lucha Libre, Manchester

Since visiting Lucha Libre in Liverpool (see here), I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Lucha Manchester”.

The wait is over, as it has joined bedfellows All Star Lanes and the new Almost Famous in the ‘Great Northern’ to create a threesome of fun places serving American (Americas) inspired finger food.

Sadly, after all the anticipation, my wife and I were “not convinced” by all the dishes we ate on our fist visit. The Liverpool Lucha certainly impressed more. This is a sentiment that seems to have been echoed by a number of people on Twitter.

Feeling it “deserved” a second chance, I purposely held back on writing a blog post and went back this week to try more of the dishes (and a complimentary portion of the “improved” ribs and sauce what we had not enjoyed the first time around).  Here’s what I thought:

Dishes in bold are ones I loved & would definitely order again.
Dishes in my standard formatting are ones I enjoyed & may order again.
Dishes in red are ones I would be unlikely to order again.

Ceviche Cocktail: fresh white fish cured in fresh lime juice, tomato, onion, cucumber, green salsa & jalapeño chilli – I enjoyed this in Liverpool and it was just as good as I remember it here.

Veggie Empanada: butternut squash, guajillo chilli, rosemary, goats cheese – one had considerably more cheese in it than the other two and was better for it, but the pastry was cooked well on all and I’d definitely order them again.

Quesadilla Gringa: marinated pork belly & grilled pineapple – I liked these; my wife loved them. Meaty pork, a little spice and sweet pineapple – a winning combination.

Al Pastor Tacos: 24 hour marinated pork belly in cola, achiote & citrus juices, served with an apple salsa, fresh coriander & red onion – Sweeter than the pork and pineapple but, thanks to the achiote, citrusy acidity, fresh red onion and coriander, I found them just the right side of too sweet.

Roasted Plantain Crisps: although I preferred the ones at Lucha Liverpool, which were thicker, these were still good.

Margarita Prawns: tiger prawns flambéed in Tapatio tequila, caramelised in agave & lime syrup – simple, yet effective.

Quesadilla (traditional): melted cheese with refries black beans – not as interesting as the “Ginga” on it’s own, but perfect for dipping in their huge collection of chilli sauces.

Spiced Lamb Hot Pot Tacos: slow cooked lamb leg with ancho chilli beetroot puree & crispy carrots – a nice little nod to Manchester.

Baja Fish Burrito: beer battered fish, sweet potato fries, pickled onions, red cabbage & habanero tartare – too much other stuff and not enough fish for these to be a real winner; still good though.

Veggie Burrito: beetroot puree, sweet potato, roasted peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes & goats cheese – I felt this one needed a something to liven it up too; not quite the flavour fiesta one would expect from Mexican cuisine (and I would halve or quarter the cehhry tomatoes).

Spicy Fries – fries that were spicy. No complaints here. Red Rice – I love rice, but have left it both times as I found it too dull to eat on it’s own and not really working with the finger food.

New recipe (top), original version (bottom)

Ribs: short back ribs slow cooked for 4 hours, BBQ sauce – I had these on the first visit and was not impressed with the sauce. This ‘feedback’ had got back to the kitchen and on my second visit I was ‘comped’ some to try the “improved” recipe. The new version had a little more about it but was still not for me.

Spiced Surf & Turf: spiced, marinated flattened steak, grilled prawns, served with patatas del pobre – the potatoes were all right but I found steak and prawns a little lacklustre.

Verdict (Would I return?): Despite what are hopefully initial "teething problems", there are some great dishes to be had at Lucha Libre - if you choose well, you can have a good meal. I’m going to keep an eye on the blog posts and twitter feed to see what dishes are ‘técnicos’ (the good guys of Mexican wresting) and which ones are ‘rudos’ (the bad guys, or rough ones).

Head Chef Jason Latham (ex Solita) is working on menu development and specials, so I’m sure any necessary improvements will be made. If you go, do give constructive feedback. A good Mexican in Manchester to compete with Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn is needed and hopefully Lucha Libre will go from strength to strength.  

For added fun, click here to see your Luchador name. Mine is "El Burrito Feo"… 'The Ugly Burrito."

¡Viva México! ¡Viva Manchester! ¡Viva Lucha Libre!

Lucha Libre on Urbanspoon

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