Address: 55-57 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 4QL
Bookings: no booking required
I normally go into a restaurant knowing ahead of time that I am going to review it. Not on this occasion. This is an impromptu review written out of a sense of civic mindedness. Having had lunch in Cielo Blanco, it would be wrong of me not to pass on the warning: whatever else you do, never, ever eat there.
It is difficult to know where to start rubbishing this restaurant. The food was slower than if a team of sedated snails had been manning the kitchen. It took 25 minutes for a bowl of tortilla chips and guacamole to arrive. I could have nipped to the local Sainsbury’s in 5 minutes and got exactly the same produce, which is probably what they did anyway.
The food itself was an atrocity. For our main courses, we ordered Huevos Rancheros off the brunch menu. They arrived 45 minutes later, and I wish with all my heart that the wait had been much, much longer. The eggs were a deathly grey, the bacon almost inedible, the avocado lifeless. The concoction was completely tasteless, and exuded a watery, greasy liquid that makes me tremble to think of even now. The only consolation to take from the meal is that I ate it several hours ago and still haven’t succumbed to food poisoning, which is a good sign.
I didn’t take any photographs of the food (it would have been cruel to inflict them on you), but the presentation was the worst I’ve seen in a restaurant – the food was so viscerally ugly that even the Tate Modern would think twice about hanging it on their walls.
The experience was further blighted by the behaviour of the couple who sat on the table directly opposite me, smack bang in my line of sight. Now, I am the furthest thing from prudish or puritanical. Nor am I a killjoy by nature – the sound of birds chirping or the sight of a new born babe grinning both bring light into my life.
But this couple, evidently in the first flush of a particularly soppy sort of romance, spent the entire meal kissing, muzzling, stroking and petting each other. For long periods of time he just gazed into her eyes, their noses touching, and didn’t even say a word. When the food arrived, things were a little better, because they occasionally broke off eating each other’s faces to eat some actual food, although, of course, he couldn’t resist spoon-feeding her guacamole as if she was a baby, and then dispensed with the spoon all together, and just pushed little pieces of fajita into her mouth with his spindly, hairy fingers. She cooed and batted her eyelashes in response.
Turning to my sister, I tried to analyse what is so infuriating about this sort of behaviour. Is it the wanton exhibitionism? The refusal to acknowledge any distinction between public and private acts? Is it the arrogance of trying to broadcast to everyone in sight that you are in the grip of a deeper, more powerful love than they are? Perhaps it is just the sickly wetness of character it reveals.
I cannot blame Cielo Blanco for the behaviour of these two repellent love-birds. But I can blame them for serving hideous food at a glacial pace, and for making my quest to locate a great Mexican restaurant seem more hopeless than ever.