Friday, August 27, 2010

Chipotle: A bad import

Chipotle, Charing Cross Rd

Part of the excitement of starting a new job is the discovery and research of nearby lunching options. Three weeks in and I have already established a good noodle place, somewhere that makes a half decent bacon sandwich, where I can get my morning coffee and probably more importantly, considering London’s obsession with "Mexican" food, somewhere I can rely on for a decent burrito.

Chipotle, Charing Cross Rd

Therefore it was more with curiosity than actual need that I thought I would give Chipotle a go. A popular chain out in the US, its arrival in London  got people excited. American friends told me about how Chipotle would thrash the competition in London if it was anything like it was "back home". If only. You see, that was the bottom line, was it going to be a successful import? Early indications were not great and it wasn't really enticing me to try it out, but now my office was so close, I really couldn't resist.

Chipotle, Charing Cross Rd

A mere six minute stroll from my office, I strode into a restaurant in full swing. A queue had formed nearly to the door, packed with workers from the nearby area, all probably as eager as I was to try one of these famed American import burritos. I checked out the menu and my first observation was that it was slightly dearer than most of its competitors, weighing in at £6.95 for a steak burrito. Add the additional and frankly staggering sum of £1.40 for a smear of guacamole, chuck in a soft drink, and you will have forked out nearly a tenner for lunch.

Chipotle, Charing Cross Rd

The cost may be on the high side, but the chunks of meat looked the business. Nice char on the outside with a ruby pink centre, I knew it was too good to be true. I trudged back to the office, took it back to my desk and took my first bite. A wave of disappointment immediately came over me. If you want a blow by blow account, the first taste to hit you is the intense sourness. Odd and unpleasant, a heavy handed squeeze of lime assaulted my taste buds. The intense smokiness from the chipotle chilli sauce wasn't too bad but could have done with a bit more heat. You may be wondering why there has been no mention of the beef so far, mainly because it was totally tasteless and chewy. What promised so much had turned out to be chewy and bland chunks of meat. Very, very disappointed, I discarded the last few mouthfuls in disgust.

Chipotle is bad value for money. Not only is it an expensive burrito in comparison to its local rivals, but it comes nowhere near to the others in terms of flavour. It's a shame as I have heard from multiple sources that Chipotle in the US is the "dog’s danglers". I’m afraid to say, using yet another animal analogy, that London’s Chipotle is pony.

Chipotle - 114-116 Charing Cross Rd, London, UK WC2H 0JR

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon


Mzungu said...

I'd seen them developing that shop for a while before I left on this trip.
I've always found that Mexican food never travels well, mainly because the food you get in Mexico is cooked by mothers and grandmothers. They unfortunately do not leave the country to try and set up restaurants. Big shame.
What we end up with are cheap take away places selling tacos and the like, which are not the culinary delights of Mexican cuisine.
But I'm glad you went before me, it's horrible to say, but thankyou for wasting your money. Now I can waste mine somewhere else.

Grumbling Gourmet said...

£10 for a disappointing lunch.. it's a noble thing we food bloggers do for our fellow man. Have been nicely surprised by Tortilla at the other side of Soho though. post on the way, but well worth checking out in the interim.


Anonymous said...

And a disappointing Burrito is a bad thing indeed.

My favourite is still Daddy Donkey though Poncho 8 is coming up due to their lovely guacamole (50p i think). I agree on Tortilla also - was pleasantly surprised - it looks like a dreadful chain of the worst kind but actually isn't too bad.

Su-Lin said...

I had a Chipotle burrito in America (Washington, DC) and it was disappointing there already...

I heart cupcakes said...

My American friend and I ate there a couple of months ago as he loves Chipotle in America but he said this was very different. For a start we barely got any meat in the burrito - it was mainly rice and beans. The rice was oddly flavoured and quite unpleasant and as for paying that much for a teeny tiny smidgen of guacamole that was tasteless..pah.
It is the first time I've gone to any burrito joint in London and left the food as it was inedible. Expensive and dissapointing

tehbus said...

@ Mzungu - I eat there so you don't have to :) Thanks for your thoughts, couldn't agree with you more.

@ Grumbling Gourmet - Unfortunately, I have made a visit to Tortilla and had a terrible burrito on my visit. May have been a bad experience, consoled myself with a pitcher of frozen margherita.

@ Anon - I am a big fan of Benitos hat but by the sounds of things, I really need to give Tortilla another go.

@ Su-Lin - It seems bad food DOES travel

@ I heart Cupcakes - Sounds extremely similar to my experience. Glad we both agree.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you tried out Entrecote Tortilla in leicester sq? I heard its supposed to be really good havnt had a chance to go there yet, i was told its mexican with a twist,let me know if any of you have tried it.