Mexican to rave over

FOOD AND DRINK'Amigos Mexican Restaurant'London Road'Chef Anurg Singh and Manager Muhammad Ihsan  Ul Haq
FOOD AND DRINK'Amigos Mexican Restaurant'London Road'Chef Anurg Singh and Manager Muhammad Ihsan Ul Haq
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A popular restaurant on London Road is deservedly packing them in at bigger new premises, decides Julia Armstrong

BET that fans of Amigos Mexican Kitchen have been wondering what’s going to replace the tiny original restaurant and takeaway now that it has reopened in bigger premises further along London Road.

Owner Khalid Wani revealed that he has decided to keep the place on himself – and plans to sell proper Indian street food.

Khalid has had a major success on his hands after the Amigos move last October which has kept him pretty busy but he hopes to be open by mid-February.

He has noticed the growing popularity of Indian street food in London and decided to bring it to Sheffield.

The idea is that favourites from many regions of the country will be available, as he says is the case in any large Indian city.

So that’s our exciting little amuse bouche – now on to the main meal.

Amigos is full just about every time I pass by, winning fans for its attention to detail on authentic flavouring and an ability to provide quality food at low prices.

Inside, the place is very light with lots of windows and very plain with white walls and tiled floors and light furniture.

Lime green and orange lampshades add welcome splashes of colour. Khalid said some customers thought the lighting was too bright.

An upstairs mezzanine area provides extra seating.

When we visited on Tuesday night, the place was filling up nicely.

Amigos is unlicensed but customers can bring their own. The menu says they may be charged corkage. The large party to one side of us were doing tequila shots, by the look of it.

I’m trying to beat back a virus so went for the vitamins in a freshly-pressed carrot and orange juice (£2) and Linda ordered orange and pineapple.

One look at the menu settled something: I was going to have to try the avocado and cactus salad starter.

Other options include nachos, guacamole and fresh tomato sauce, tortilla soup or empanadas, which are little pasties.

Prices range from £3 to £4.50.

For £11 they offer a taco tray to share, groaning with tortillas, chipotle chicken, beef tenga, refried beans, lamb’s liver, prawns, cheese, dips… We couldn’t do that lot justice.

The main courses of interest, steaks and burgers aside, are labelled Amigos street food and Latin dishes.

The street food includes about every type of Mexican wrap available, from tacos to gorditos, quesadillas and chimichangas.

These mostly come with a choice of beef, chicken or vegetable fillings and some are regular or large sizes. Prices go from £4.75 to £6.50.

For a bit more drama there are sizzling fajitas and the Latin dishes include sea bass, salmon, chilli con or sin carne, braised beef steak, chicken with poblano chillis and piri-piri roast chicken.

Prices range from £6 to 11.50.

So, avocado and cactus salad for me (£3.50) and I decided to add chicken (£3).

Linda tried the fishcakes (£4.50).

We followed on with a regular chicken enchilada for Linda (£5.25) and lamb ensopado (£8.50) for me.

When the starters arrived, it looked like Linda had been short-changed as her little dish contained only two fishcakes on top of some artful squiggles of mango and habanero salsa.

In contrast, I had a generous bowl of salad topped with a good-sized slice of griddled chicken breast. It only needed a side order of potatoes or rice to turn it into a main course.

Don’t worry, the cactus had already been relieved of its spines. I think it’s actually prickly pear leaves and they are pretty innocuous looking, dark green and finely sliced.

Pretty innocuous tasting too in a salsa-like salad that had a very savoury, salty taste that held the interest and included lots of red and green peppers. The chicken was excellently cooked and still juicy.

I tried a bit of Linda’s salmon fishcakes and they were good, very moist and warmed up with subtle spicing.

She helped out with the salad but we didn’t manage to finish it.

Luckily we had a little wait before the next course.

I heard a personal trainer say on TV that the brighter coloured your food, the healthier it is. If that’s the case, Amigos’ rainbow-bright platefuls are paragons of virtue.

Maybe that’s why the walls are plain white.

My lamb ensopado was four small pieces on the bone, covered with a finely-chopped, tomatoey red sauce and accompanied by a mound of coriander rice.

The lamb was chewy but tasty, the sauce was rich, garlicky, tomatoey and spicy and the coriander lifted the rice. A little garnish of pale pink pickled cabbage added a great hit of sweet tanginess and sharpness.

Linda enjoyed her enchilada, which I tried, and it was packed with flavour from the chicken mole, jalapeno, salsa and cheese sauce fillings.

It came with a pile of irresistible, warm tortilla chips, a chunky salsa and a three tiny dishes containing guacamole, soured cream and a fine salsa, their colours representing the Mexican flag.

We remembered the heavenly brownie from last time, so decided to tackle puddings after a break.

I never got more than a morsel of the coveted brownie and chocolate sauce but Linda made short work of it, so that speaks for itself.

However, I was more than happy with the tangy delights of an excellent key lime pie, its filling nestling on a thin biscuit crumb base, its sharpness accentuated by some raspberry coulis. They were £3 each.

We also had good Illy coffees.

Our bill came to £42.45.

* Verdict: Viva Amigos! Glad to see them settling well into their new home.

* Amigos Mexican Kitchen, 224-230 London Road, Sheffield. 0114 258 5900. Amigos Mexican Kitchen

* Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 11.30am to 10.30pm.