Oh lockdown, what a strange thing you are. How can something feel so teetering-on-the-edge-of-apocalypse tense and also so peaceful and enjoyable at the same time?
For someone who’s closest thing to a hobby is going out to eat at restaurants, lockdown has been a strange time for me. I didn’t miss eating out as much as I thought I would, which is more of a testament to the weekly takeaways we were getting as a replacement than a reflection of the local restaurant scene.
In a way, the slower pace of life under lockdown has been pretty enjoyable. In the first month I managed to read four books, was cooking every day (when takeaways weren’t involved, that is) and enjoyed time in my garden and walking around my neighbourhood – both things that tend to be lost to my daily commute. I appreciate I’ve had it much easier than some – I’m very lucky to be able to work from home effectively, to have free access to lovely outdoor spaces just a short walk from my home, and to live with my boyfriend.
That said, now restaurants are able to safely open and while outdoor seating is widely available, I am fully back on my bullshit and bursting through restaurant doors and swiftly into their gardens with my hand sanitiser and mask at the ready.
One such recent visit took us to the Mexican kitchen that’s running at Bridge Street House in Winchester. I am a big fan of the big flavours promised by the menu and so as soon as I had a free afternoon I made sure to head into Winchester to sample the delights on offer.
I’d never visited Bridge Street House before and was pleasantly surprised by how big (read: excellent for social distancing) and pretty it is. The redbrick courtyard’s centrepiece is a spiral staircase so picturesque you could almost be in a secret garden in the Mediterranean – and with our current run of weather, the staycation option has never looked more favourable.
We scanned the QR code at the table which provided us with a digital menu (though I’ll be honest, I’d already pored over the menu at least twice before deciding to dine out and knew exactly what I wanted). To start we shared the ‘guacaposh’ – a delightful homemade guac and pico de gallo with lightly spiced tortilla chips – and some halloumi fries.
The portion sizes were definitely for sharing, and I think we may have got a little carried away with our order so ended up bringing half our meal home with us. Luckily it was almost just as good the second time around!
The halloumi fries were really something special, slathered in chipotle mayo and scattered with a garnish of pico de gallo which offered a tang of citrus that cut through the salty, deep fried halloumi.
By the time it came to our mains we were already on our way to being pretty full, but that didn’t stop our greedy eyes from widening when they arrived at the table; though be warned, as gorgeous as it looked, the quesadilla was huge.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t delicious, though – neither of us are vegan but we were so attracted by the idea of sweet plantain and juicy red pepper that we simply couldn’t resist sampling this dish, and I for one am so glad that we did. The sweetness was light and fresh – just what you need when you’ve loaded up on halloumi fries – with the deep fried tortilla taking on an almost pastry-like crunch and flakiness that I can imagine would be supremely good drunk food.
If you’re a fan of Mexican food (and honestly, how could you not be?!) then this is a place I would definitely recommend. With friendly staff, a great menu and dishes that are obviously created with a lot of love and attention, you can’t really go wrong.
And don’t forget, for the remainder of August you’ll be able to get your Mexican food fix for half price on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays as Mi Cocina is a member of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Bridge Street House,
5 Bridge St, Winchester,
Hampshire, SO23 0HN