Ojo Rojo serves as Bournemouth’s newest answer to authentic Mexican street food. Located in the busy Bournemouth Triangle, this novel-like and dynamic restaurant has rapidly created a reputation for its mouth-watering menu and exciting take on traditional Mexican dishes. Imi Byers delves in deeper to investigate the spicy new trend…
The restaurant name ‘Ojo Rojo’ literally translates as ‘Red Eye’, a popular Mexican phrase for the feeling after eating spicy food- or the morning after a heavy night. It describes someone ‘living their life to the fullest’, which, in my opinion, you haven’t done until you’ve sampled some of what’ Ojo Rojo’ has to offer.
Mexican street food ‘antijotos’, or ‘little cravings’, not only consists of your typical burritos and fajitas, but also includes an extensive variety of dips, spices and sauces. These dishes are not typically eaten at formal dinner occasions, but are instead intended to be eaten throughout the day as a snack or a light meal. The majority of the options are revolved around corn-based carbs, such as tortillas and tacos, combined with some sort of meat or bean filling. Dips such as guacamole, salsa and sour cream are often heavily lavished over these steamy fillings or alternatively, they can be used to spice up a tasty pile of tortilla chips. There is such a wide range of possible flavours and combinations so that even the fussiest of eaters would be sure to find something to wet their appetite.
The first impressions of the restaurant set high standards. The exterior is designed with clear, simple, yet elegant wooden slates, which give off an intriguing rustic feel. Upon entering, the bar is teaming with keen and enthusiastic staff, who are quick to seat us and explain their exciting menu. The inner décor follows the same authentic wooden simplicity, and the whole ambience of a traditional Mexican setting is illuminated by tree trunks, cleverly entwined, sprouting branches of twinkling fairy lights to create a magical dining layout.
The menu is split into Breakfasts (only served on weekends), dips and nibbles, bigger plates, sharing plates, tacos and deserts. There is also a separate drinks menu, which contains an impressive array of cocktails, wines and Mexican brews that echo the authentic vibes of traditional Mexican culture.
After heavily consulting the menu, it was decided that an array of tacos, sharing plates and dips was the perfect answer to getting as much a taste for the food as possible. The plates all came out as and when they were ready, giving us the perfect opportunity to order more if required.
A trio of dips with tortilla chips and flatbread was almost obligatory and first to be brought out to the table. Out of the range of dips on offer, the final decision included a tangy tomato salsa, spiced guacamole and creamy black-beans, which all perfectly complimented one another in both texture and flavour. The tortilla chips and flatbread were perfectly crunchy and gave the impressive feel of being handmade. So far, so good.
Next, venturing a little more outside of our comfort zones, we tested out the sharing dish of a fresh sea bass ceviche. Marinated in a citrus dressing and garnished with avocado and grapefruit, this dish was beautifully presented and tasted equally as divine. The marinade provided that distinctive clean, fresh taste without being too sharp and the avocado provided the perfect soft contrast to the citrusy flavours. This is definitely a dish I would order again.
There was no way we could properly review this restaurant without trying their ‘famous tacos’. Having spied on previous tables’ plates, it was clear that these were a popular choice. The tacos came in sets of three on gorgeous ceramic trays, almost making the food look too good to eat. Daring to be different, we went for one set of the blackened salmon and one set of the plantain. We were not disappointed. Being a fan of tacos and regularly cooking them at home means I am a tough critic. However, I was thoroughly impressed with the texture and combination of flavours that both sets of tacos had. The softly spiced salmon provided the perfect contrast to the crunchy texture of the lettuce on top of the fresh and doughy tacos, which created the perfect base. The plantain was cleverly cooked so it had a firm but soft texture; its delicate combination with the spicy chipotle mayo created a mouthful of heaven. Very Impressed.
Last, but not least, sides of a refreshing avocado salad and a Mexican ‘slaw were ordered and perfectly completed our scrumptious array of dishes. The salad was lightly dressed so it wasn’t too heavy and the ‘slaw wasn’t too creamy, and provided the perfect crunch. Other options of sides include sweet potato fries and spicy rice, which I could imagine would happily compliment any accompanying plate.
I could have easily sat and tasted through the whole menu, but unfortunately my stomach (and bank account) wouldn’t allow for it. Needless to say though, I will definitely return and try some of the exciting other dishes -and cocktails perhaps- which I have no doubt will be equally as exquisite. The prices may be slightly above average, with around £5.50 for a taco tray and £8.50 for a set of chips and dips; but the price only reflects the quality and taste of the scrumptious offerings.