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.
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.
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.
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