There’s a Mexican tradition that involves eating 12 grapes in the run up to midnight on Hogmanay.
Each represents one month of the year to come.
If they’re sour, it’ll be a bad month, if they’re sweet, good. Organic and seedless is probably auspicious (grape expectations!), and those little stunted bobbles (grapes of wrath!) that roll to the bottom of the fruit bowl might be portents for the months that roll by inexplicably fast (usually May and November).
Oh, and eating raisins or drinking wine on the countdown doesn’t count.
I think I must have munched a mixed bunch at the bells last year.
There have been some great restaurants over the last 12 months, but some honkers too.
I was hoping this eatery, the last of 2017 and situated in the former premises of Clerk’s Bar, would be a sweet juicy one, and, indeed, it started well, with a zingy pineapple and cardamom margarita (£6.75, featuring El Jimador tequila, pineapple, lime, cardamom and sugar).
Our party of three then ordered a couple of starters and a set of tacos to share.
The chicharron and guacamole (£5) was a good snacky option, with a bowlful of airy if underseasoned pork puffs that resembled a lardy breakfast take on cornflakes.
This came with a dip of mashed avocado mixed with crumbled sheep’s cheese, pomegranate seeds and finely chopped raw red onion. While, pork belly croquettes (£6.50) were four cress-strewn and mouse-coloured bollards of dense hot shredded meat, glued to a board with mayo and studded with more red fruit seeds.
We’d also ordered a pair of Yucatan-style chicken tacos (£6.50 for two), which contained charred poultry, white hot baby-tooth-sized pineapple chunks, some watery salsa, mayo and cress.
All good, but then along came the mains.
Sadly, what should have been an easy-to-prepare staple – the baked chicken enchilada (£10) – was a dud.
There was a torso-like soggy taco parcel with a gooey topping of stiff nacho cheese and splotches of grey-looking guacamole. Its bland and bulky selection of contents included rather ordinary “smoky chipotle chicken tinga” bits, a “fiery slaw” that was about as hot as an igloo’s outhouse, and a watery salsa verde. Underneath – a bland green rice.
This option had undergone a flavour bypass, and couldn’t even be resuscitated by lashings of the Tabasco and chipotle sauces that were on the table.
We were also a bit deflated by the other tacos, especially since the chicken version we’d already had as a starter had been promising.
Each of the baja fish (£5 for two) numbers featured a crispy battered piece of cod, which was fine, but dull overall since there was little else in the tortilla, apart from a smudge of guacamole and some mayo. It was a Mexican version of a fish finger sandwich on white bread.
Our pulled chilli jackfruit (£6.50 for two) was equally bland. The “avocado mojo” was just another small smudge of guacamole, and the only other stuffing was a couple of pink pickled onion hoops. Meh.
And then – ta-da – along came the chargrilled marinated hanger steak (£14) to save the day. It featured a good blackened slab of meat on top of crispy patatas, a tomato ranchero sauce and a swirl of mayo (aka “habanero aioli”).
We all wanted a bit of this lifebuoy and not the other stuff, which ended up half finished.
For dessert, we were kind of expecting the usual Tex-Mex dessert round up – lime and tequila cheesecake or chocolate and chilli pots, but nope, it’s not even as interesting as that.
All they offer is churros (£5) or an ice-cream waffle taco (£5.50). We ordered both to share, and they weren’t bad.
The churros, which came with a scoop of plain ice-cream, were hot, speckled with cinnamon, and fastened to the plate by a splodge of dulce de leche and chocolate sauce.
While, the waffle option featured a light crunchy biscuity kayak, with passengers of ice-cream, mini marshmallows, pecans, hundreds and thousands and other kiddie-ish bits.
Fine, but if you’re visiting this place, you’re probably best stopping at starters and margaritas.
Do this and you could avoid any sour grapes that might follow you into 2018.