Six of One 14/7/2023
Salteñas Martin and five other restaurants
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Six of One is a column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each newsletter, we send out a tip from six writers for six different restaurants, bakeries, cafes or takeaways that deserve to be better known.
You can find previous Six of One’s below:
Six of One 26/5/2023 - Polentina and five other recommendations
Six of One 2/6/2023 - Inihaw and five other recommendations
Six of One 9/6/2023 - Kulcha Express and five other recommendations
Six of One 16/6/2023 - Triple One Café and five other recommendations
Six of One 16/6/2023 - Samak Seafood and five other recommendations
Six of One 30/6/2023 - Lakehouse Hungarian Restaurant and five other recommendations
Todays recommendations are from Sharanya Deepak, Jonathan Nunn, Maazin Buhari, Jonas Rosales, Joel Hart and Ned Sedgwick
1. Salteñas Martin
On the first day I visit Salteñas Martin, a small café on the Old Kent Road that used to be a Dominican empanada spot, I feel cripplingly homesick. I have been in London three weeks but the persistent routine I have cultivated suddenly leaves me, and I am bare for nourishment. Not just for food but also for an atmosphere – a bit of noise, chat and banter that feels like Delhi. As we eat, customers have long discussions with owner Martin Romego which I suspect are familial tales; in other words, his friends came in to squabble with him.
Before Romego started his café only a month ago, he baked salteñas for other Bolivian restaurants and cafés in the area and, on request, for familial and ceremonial gatherings of the Bolivian community. He is “famous for Bolivians”, a woman eating by the window in the café tells me. Me and my friend get a chicken salteña, a corn humita and a beef cutlet whose name he does not tell us. The salteña is perfect, the chicken runny and fresh and speckled with raisins, and the pastry soft but dense enough to be fortifying. I order a horchata (sweet, and made with ‘chufas’, or softened tiger nuts) and my friend gets a mocochinchi (made with dried peaches, also sweet). I drink mine and then hers. I finish the humita, in which chunky corn paste is steamed in corn husk and which I take an immense liking to.
As we eat, Romego shows us his picture-based menu for Mexican food: tacos, enchiladas, spreads and dips set in glass bowls. This is his first project with the café and he hosts a Mexican chef who cooks a weekend menu between 5-9pm on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays. “Daytime Bolivia, nighttime Mexico”, he says, insisting that we must return on weekend evenings to eat. As I watch lads with perfect haircuts bicker over a carom game on the street, diners around me video call their families. Even though everything occurs in a language I do not speak, I find myself feeling relaxed at the table and scratching at my notebook as I would at a spot I went to every day back home. I also find myself ordering another salteña and another horchata. I’m fulfilled, homesick no more, and dead at ease. Sharanya Deepak
214 Old Kent Rd, SE1 5TY