Mexican food is always one of my first choices of cuisines to go for & when I heard a new one was opening, I obviously was looking forward to trying it. I hadn’t heard of the name Topolabamba before so assumed it wasn’t a chain & was even more surprised to find out it was owned by the company who also own Glasgow favourites such as Di Maggios, Pinto & Cafe Andaluz. Before I go on with this post, I will state that we were invited along to the pre-launch night after I posted information about the restaurant opening in an earlier post.
On first impressions, I was taken with the decor which contained a lot of wooden wall panels dotted with authentic looking Mexican bric-a-brac. Now I love skulls & was taken with all of the sugar skulls they had dotted around the restaurant. My most favourite part of the decor was, surprisingly, in the toilets which are covered with Mexican skull themed wallpaper. Unfortunately it was custom made for the restaurant so won’t be able to get my hands on some!!
Topolabamba is another restaurant centred around sharing food with lots of small plates. The menu is split into 3 sections – bar bites, street food & bigger plates. The drinks are a mix of margaritas & mexican beers along with some imported soft drinks.
When seated, we were asked if we wanted any bar bites whilst waiting for others to arrive. Since we had literally just sat down, we suggested that the waitress bring anything. From the menu we had crazy corn & nachos with both guacamole & salsa. I don’t really know what was so “crazy” about the corn since it was 3 bits of corn on the cob with some crumbled cheese over it. Nothing really jumped out. The guacamole was fantastic, with big chunks of fresh avocado & a nice kick to it. The salsas that they have range from mild to quite spicy on the scale, however we could not find much difference between the house & the spiciest salsa which was a bit disappointing.
The street food section contains typical Mexican dishes such as taquitos, tacos & fajitas whereas the bigger plates have more variation with stuffed peppers, coca cola short stack ribs, burritos & baked fish. I was really pleased to see cactus on the menu in a few dishes as I’d only come across it in the Wahaca restaurants in London. As we were at a sampling night, we were encouraged to order a few dishes between us to start then order more once we had finished.
From the street food section, we sampled dishes including crab ceviche tostadas (the crab was fresh but lost in the lemon that had been added), barbacoa beef tacos (nice strong flavour from the meat but accompanied nicely with a blend of spices) & our favourite dish from that section – fish tacos which were in a light batter & accompanied by a smoky & spicy aioli.
Ever since I’d seen the menu I’d been really intrigued to try the coca cola short stack rib. However, I was quite disappointed by the dish which consisted on one large beef rib with a little sauce on the side. The meat was tender & fell off the bone but the lack of sauce meant there was no edge to it & it was at the end of the day, just a bit of beef. Other dishes we sampled went down a lot better:
- Stuffed pepper – it contained crumbly cheese, spicy cactus, potatoes & chipolte peppers which gave it a good spice rating but you could taste the individual elements
- Salt & Pepper Ancho Chilli Squid – this was my favourite dish filled with fresh baby squid (including some tentacles) & accompanied by such a delicious ancho chilli aioli that added so much flavour
- Chargrilled flat iron steak with peanut mole – The steak was pink in the middle & had been seasoned with some spices. The peanut mole was so full of flavour with the spicy chocolate richness & texture & slightly salty taste of the peanuts
- Queso Fundido – a melted cheese dish containing chorizo & roasted peppers which was a bit sickly in my opinion, with the cheese overpowering the meat & pepper.
I sampled a few of the margaritas they had including the house & mango versions. I have to say, that for being affiliated with Jose Curevo, the margaritas were slightly lacking in any oomph or taste. The mango version was a bit better than the house but I think that was due to it being a more fruity flavour. The Mexican beers went down well with A, with a porter, IPA & pale ale being on offer. I also liked them but only for the amazing labels!!! For dessert I sampled some of the churros which didn’t contain cinnamon sugar as you would normally expect & had been slightly overcooked since they had lost their doughy texture. I did eat some as the dark chocolate sauce that came with them was so moreish. I accompanied it with a pear & chocolate margarita which was quite sweet but a nice flavour from the traditional lime margarita.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Topolabamba but there are clearly some areas that need to be worked on before I could class it as in the same category as Bibi’s.