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Published: 20 November 2008
Pablo Casas with staff member Martin Olejinzack and some of Macondo's mouthwatering cakes
Pablo Casas with staff member Martin Olejinzack and some of Macondo's mouthwatering cakes
Real Latin delights in a Mexican setting

WITH furniture rescued from Mexican churches, chefs brought in from a Spanish convent and chocolate brownies fit for the mouths of the gods, it's hard to ignore Macondo.
The little Latin eaterie – named after the village in which author Gabriel Garcia Marquez set his novel A Hundred Years of Solitude – represents a heady mix of decadent desserts, authentic food and hand-picked art.
Cousins Mexican/Spanish Pablo Casas and Santiago Calva, from Mexico, gave up their respective careers as a lawyer and architect to pursue their dream of bringing real Latin food to London.
And although their Spanish tortillas have won the accolade of being named the best in London by Spanish national newspaper El Pais, it is their cakes that have captured the imagination of the people of Islington.
The massive chocolate brownies are finished off with a dashes of white
chocolate that come from a mysterious location, while the tres leches cake, crowned in golden brown meringue, is a favourite.
Yummy mummies are more than willing to put in their 24-hour advanced orders to be sure of having a Macondo creation adorning their party table.
The menu changes daily as the four chefs put their hearts into every dish they make, taking their lead from original chef Tina Gomez.
Mr Casas said: "We found our chefs from a Spanish convent in Notting Hill. All these people have learned through the years. You have to be passionate about it or you won't survive."
The secret behind the spinach, garlic and cream cheese tacos, which came to the table oozing with filling, Mr Casas said is "simplicity".
He said: "It's the simplicity that makes it good. You don't have to make complicated things to amaze people."
The cousins buy their ingredients fresh, their ham comes from New Covent Garden market and their fish from Fishworks.
The salad was as crispy and juicy as if it had just been picked from the bottom of the garden and the Spanish tortilla with chorizo demonstrated exactly why tortilla is so much more than just a glorified omelette.
The coffee Macondo serves is fair trade, produced by Mozzo.
Mr Casas said: "It's very important to have fair trade. Mozzo sponsor our art exhibitions. They came to us and said they loved Macondo and wanted us to be their clients. We were persuaded. They collaborate with the staff training."
The unobtrusive music – a collection of Spanish beats – add to the ambience while still allowing diners to enjoy a quiet meal, slice of cake or sample Macondo's wide array of South American and Spanish wines in calm surroundings.
And the cousins have put their skills to good use. Mr Casas, a lawyer, is in charge of all licensing, planning applications accounting and administration, while former architect Mr Calva does most of the interior design.
Most of the decor comes from abroad, Mr Casas said, adding: "The chairs are from the 1800s and belong to a hairdresser in Mexico. The glasses are handmade. We saw them in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. The candle-holders were from an old church in Mexico."
Explaining the name, Mr Casas said: "Everything changes here. Just like in 100 Years Of Solitude where everything changes. It's named after the town Macondo in the book, which englobed the Latin ambience. We both love Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his books."
The cousins have a second branch in Hoxton Square, but they have no immediate plans to expand.
"We're happy with the two for now," Mr Casas said. "Here we have quite a few loyal customers and they are the people who keep us going."
He added: "We're humble. We don't want to say we're the best at everything. People can come and try for themselves."
To find out about wine tasting events or for more information contact Macondo on 0207 226 7275 or check out the website

Macondo Islington
18-20 Camden Passage
London N1 8ED
020 72267 275

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