The Arc: Vegetarian Nachos vs Chicken Fajita Nachos

Place: The Arc, Torrens St, Angel 

One place. Two nachos. One vegetarian, one not vegetarian. You know when there’s a child and his brother is more talented and loved than him? Yeah, that. With more emotion involved, obviously.

Nachos Mexicana (£6.95): Fajita spiced chicken, pepper and red onion, mature Cheddar, guacemole, soured cream, salsa. Picture doesn’t do them justice as phone was attached to wall via phone charger so couldn’t reach.

Nachos (£5.95): cheddar, guacemole, soured cream, salsa. NB: contains significantly less cheese and not nearly as much sauce as the above. Also, you won’t get as big a portion. Photo does them too much justice as had unplugged phone by this point. 

The Nachos Mexicana had much more cheese, grated and warmed, leaving it almost erotically stringy. They had to be eaten with a fork which, though controversial, proves the existence of some fantastic sauce coverage.

The Nachos (v) had cheese glued to the triangles like a child clinging to a disinterested parent (children overcompensate when a parent doesn’t give them as much love as their elder siblings) and were a minefield of bald chos. Holding each other like children sobbing in daycare, bonded by overly sweet salsa and cheese adhesive, the chef didn’t care- letting them sit there on the plate, embarrassed by their own failure. Doing nothing. God it makes me mad.

But what of the chips? They, on both plates, tasted suspiciously similar to the Tesco Value tortillas, leaving a salty, tearful aftertaste. At least the Nachos Mexicana had some quality pepper and onion action to make up for this, though.

Why not try taking the child out to the cinema to show him how much you care? You can even get vouchers if you’re a bit hard up. Or do an Orange Wednesday? That’d be nice wouldn’t it? Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked.

So, The Arc, you may do wonderful pizzas (including buy-one- get- one-free-deal at lunchtimes) but take more care with your vegetarian chos. We’re malnourished, anaemic, and notice such things. If anything, take more care, because we’re often left to deal with subpar food and can’t have steaks which is really irritating sometimes.

It’s unacceptable that, as a vegetarian, I must order a chicken nachos without the chicken in order to get a satisfactory plate o’cho. That’s like ordering order a burger minus the burger plus macaroni cheese in order to get quality pasta.

Also, if you’re a parent, make sure you lavish enough attention on both your children. It’s important.

Ultimate London Nacho: Obviously not the vegetarian nachos. I’ve had better in Wetherspoons. However, the Nachos Mexicana were pretty cool- but the quality of the chips let them down. 3. 

Ultimate London Nacho: Desperados

Place: Desperados, Islington

You know it’s going to be good when you’re drinking a cocktail called The Cactus Banger and there’s a boot stuck on the wall.

Desperados looks someone blew up a sombrero and thought they’d accessorise with a few tables. It’s great. There’s a massive wagon wheel outside and everything. The chos were £3.99 which are the cheapest yet, and you know what? There was not one bald cho. Not even a small one with a receding hairline. 

They used a Spreading Technique which was a surprisingly intelligent move for a place where waiters didn’t understand the phrase “do you mind if I have my main meal without Chorizo?” For those not au fait with the Spreading Technique, it involved the chos being spread on a flat plate as opposed to piled high in a bowl. Which looks impressive, but tastes like Bald.

Clumping? Does a sombrero shit on the pope? No. There was no clumping or cheese adhesive as it hadn’t been microwaved and the guac was staggering. Chunky like the thighs of an oiled Chippendale dancer (dated reference) and contributing to what was a perfect ratio of soured cream to salsa to guac to penos. It’s difficult coming up with affectionate nicknames for Jalapenos that aren’t reminiscent of male genitalia. 

The one complaint I had was perhaps there was too much relish. I know, it’s like picking holes in God here, but knives and forks were necessary. Surely the point of nachos is that it’s a hands-on situation. 

Aside from this small gripe, the whole nacho experience was brilliant. Dimly lit utterly mental and tacky environment, beautifully executed chos, and wall mounted footwear. Nacho Times recommends this highly.

Ultimate London Nacho? Restored my faith in London Nachos. Those chos were the strongest contender for Ultimate London Nacho yet. 4.5/5 

The Ultimate London Nacho: The Camden Head

Place: The Camden Head, Camden Passage (Islington)

If this was a dating site and I fancied nachos, I would have private messaged these. And worn a really revealing dress on the first date.

Then found them to be a little cold if well adorned, Caeser-like, in the sun soaked beer garden of The Camden Head. Surrounded by laughing couples and a guy with no teeth. Who was alone. But that’s irrelevant (if poignant and telling).

Anyway, the small nachos (pictured) were £4.20 and, while it was a little plate, the mountain was Everest. The relish was delicious too, although the jalapenos tasted like Dettol which was bizarre if, awkwardly, slightly pleasant. Unfortunately, the Everest proportions meant the mountain was quite cold, and there was a lot of pulling and tugging to get the chos with the cheese which had solidified, clinging to the chips like a child clinging to, you know, some chips.

However, distribution and amount of the Big Four was pleasing and the use of chilli Doritos, while not homemade or requiring any effort whatsoever, meant that I was almost actively searching for Bald Chos by the end. Almost. I know. Shoot me.

Overall I think this was a positive experience (bar slightly plasticky and cold cheese) and I plan to give him a second date. It, sorry.

The moral? Seasoned chips work well in nachos and if you have no teeth, you’ll probably be alone. Also, profile pictures can look inviting but the person in question might turn out to be cold, if well dressed.

Ultimate London Nacho? If they were warmer I might be tempted to give them a 4. Will have to try the larger nachos in order to fully rule out The Camden Head. For now, 3.5/5.

ULN: The Boadicea

Place: St John Street, Angel Islington

At £6.95 they’re fairly priced and you get the perfect amount of ‘chos. On a square plate. That the waitress had to put on a tray because it was heated. Yes, someone has circumvented the cold-after-three-minutes issue continuing to plague many perfectly good plates since the dawn of time. Talking of time, the chefs must have been preoccupied considering it took twenty minutes to serve what it ostensibly a fast meal to prepare. Maybe they were playing billiards. Just a thought. Either way, there were some some flair details and nice touches to these nachos so it was probably worth the wait.

Note the separate helping of soured cream (which I poured on the middle for this picture because I was hungry and therefore impatient) so, in the words of the waitress, “you can decide how much or where you want to put it” HELLO POWER.

Obviously- after this picture was taken- I used it all, and my lunch companions (Londonfood4afiver’s Katy and Joe) even gave me their jalapenos. Well, Joe did. But what about the nachos themselves? All the components were there, with some interesting extras such as a concoction of thinly diced pepper and onion.

Plus, the salsa was homemade, chunky and delicious but unfortunately, there was not enough of it. The proportions were a little off and, after a few minutes, I was struck with the bald nacho syndrome. I had to do a bit of economising early on to make sure the sauce spread to those less blessed chips below. Even after the, quite frankly, aggressive amount of jalapenos kicking around the plate.

Ultimate London Nacho? Not quite. But definitely worth a look. I’ll give it a solid 3/5