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Review

Green & Red

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Oh happy day. A new Mexican in London that’s: a) fantastic; and b) fantastic value.

For those of us addicted to the joys of this cuisine – I can’t be alone in this, surely? –Green & Red is something to celebrate. And before you laugh, please be assured that we are talking proper Mexican food here. If you’re basing your knowledge of Mexican cuisine on the defrsoted pap served by Chiquito, or the odd plate of mass-produced fajitas, then you can stop sniggering. Right now.

If, however, you were in bits the day The Cactus on Haverstock Hill shut up shop, or developed an expensive guacamole habit at the late, lamented Destino (“yeah, so I do a bit of avocado every now and again, but it’s alright, I can control it…”) then you and I are brothers. Or sisters. Well, a sibling of some description.

Look, whatever your feelings towards Mexican cuisine, you either need to try the good stuff before you write it off, or get your (long overdue) fix of the good stuff. In either case, that means a trip to Bethnal Green Road should be imminent.

Set in a Flat Iron-esque building near the Brick Lane end of BG Road, Green & Red has used the odd-shaped space well, resulting in a relaxed, funky feel and a welcoming vibe. Of course, any building offering so many tequilas and interesting beers would have a welcoming vibe but the soft lighting and dark woods do soothe somewhat. Tables are well spaced, music – the expected modern Latin soundtrack but a little classic soul and reggae to break it up – is at an agreeable volume, and the staff are knowledgeable and passionate.

There are, undoubtedly, more stylish places in London (it’s certainly hard to imagine Paris Hilton getting excited about a night on Bethnal Green Road). But, as all too many restaurateurs and bar owners forget, you can only get so far on style. At some point you have to back it up with drinks and food, and those are two areas where Green & Red scores highly. Don’t just take my word for it though. The place won this year’s Evening Standard Award for Best Bar, a prize they don’t give to just anyone.

Accordingly, cocktails are expertly constructed, with Pomegranate Margeritas and he Old Fashioned – with the usual bourbon replaced by aged Tequila, scoring very highly. The wine list is decent value and suitably quirky – with a couple of (not great but certainly inoffensive) Mexican options for the experimental. And the food is robust, well-cooked and very good value indeed: mains come with refried beans, homemade tortillas, vegetables, etc and weigh in around the £13 mark. Pork Belly with ribs – generous, tender, very good indeed – and Lamb Shank - equally tender and well flavoured – are certainly recommended. And when a large group of Mexicans wander in and order the same dishes, you know that you must be on to something.

Straightforward, unfussy but with some smart twists – for example, the option to “study” tequilas – Green & Red would be a gem at twice the price. Long may they reign.