They say the first bite is with the eye in which case these little delights must be a sweet from start to finish! Not strictly burrito related but I loved these little Mexican themed treats. A perfect party snack if you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or good if you just want a little something extra after your burrito.
Last week I was working in an unfamiliar part of town so I did what any dedicated burritologist would do: tested new burritos! As you are likely aware, burritos originated as street food so what better place to test them than street markets. The area I was in was directly between two street markets: Exmouth Market and Leather Lane. These are the locations for Freebird Burritos and Daddy Donkey respectively but who had the superior burrito? Let the burrito battle commence! Continue reading
Dr Frost Rathbone had been looking forward to visiting Burrito Bros for some time so it was with high expectation that we headed in. Initial impressions were OK, the décor inside was more minimal than the explosive colour typical of burrito places but it was clean and not without character. An outside seating area was an unusual but pleasant addition given the clement weather.
Slow Country for Cold Burritos
Unfortunately, this is where most of the positive comment ceases. Our burritos took a surprisingly long time to construct and we were told drinks would have to follow as there was no one around who could make them at present. The burritos were also a little smaller than we are used to. Not that we at LBRI value quantity over quality but I’m sad to say these burritos delivered neither.
Let ‘em Eat Bread
The first bite delivered little other than tortilla – there was a very high ratio of wrap to filling throughout the burrito and this effectively watered down the flavour throughout. Neither the tortilla nor the filling was hot. A burrito doesn’t need to be piping hot, but it does need to be at least warmed. The second bite offered a pretty large kick of spicy salsa but unfortunately this was not continued through the burrito as frustratingly most of the salsa was at one end of the burrito. This meant that a comparatively bland burrito followed this single, very spicy mouthful.
The guacamole looked great from a distance but on closer inspection was blended much too smoothly. Guacamole needs some texture (mash your avocados with a fork don’t blend them) and larger chunks of avocado hold flavour better. There were chunks of red and yellow capsicum which added colour but little flavour. Consequentially the guacamole was lacking any real flavour or texture – very disappointing from what is normally one of my favourite parts of a burrito. I shall resist the temptation to be overly critical of the meat: it was too cold for burrito filling and this made it hard to judge anything else subjectively but it was tender and had flavour so certainly there is potential for it to be a tasty filling. For now the jury is out.
Second chances, but probably not a third
Overall this was a very disappointing piece of burrito analysis. Doubly so given our high expectations. In Burrito Bros defence we did visit in the early evening when trade was at a trickle. A higher turnover of food may have made for fresher, warmer ingredients, and presumably more staff on. Nevertheless, it is not really acceptable to penalise customers arriving at less popular times and this only excuses part of the issues with these burritos. Given the positive reviews that can be found elsewhere for Burrito Bros Dr Frost-Rathbone and I will be giving them a second chance but there will have to be some major improvements if there is to be a third visit from LBRI.
Dr. Frost-Rathbone and I decided to frequent Benito’s Hat in order to ply our trade of Burrito Benchmarking. Here are the preliminary results:
The Covent Garden branch of Benito’s Hat has a very pleasant interior. Bursts of colour everywhere and a very funky vibe. A mixture of high and standard tables and (as we visited in the evening) some rather nice mood lighting on tables and around them. I’m afraid the quality is rather poor but I have supplied pictures below.
Burrito’s At The Speed of Light
I would advise deciding on your fillings before you start your order at Benito’s Hat because the service moves fast. Really fast. I shall take proper recording equipment to analyse the phenomenal burrito creating speed more accurately on my next visit. I would estimate we went from ingredients to burrito in under 30 seconds – and this with my indecision slowing the process. Just what a hungry professor needed.
Such phenomenal speed comes at a small price. The wrap was slightly looser than I would consider ideal. I should stress this is a very minor complaint provided you are eating sat down. It can be a bit of an issue for the burrito-on-the-go though, as a looser wrap will result in more fall out. (I can’t tell you how many of my neck ties have perished at the hands of a loose wrapper.)
You get out what you put in
Overall the ingredients were good. Both my pork and Dr Frost-Rathbone’s beef were slow-cooked to perfection – soft, succulent, flavourful meat. The medium-hot sauce delivered the sweet bright heat that can only be achieved with good quality peppers and had enough slow burning heat to add flavour without becoming overpowering. The guacamole was not the finest I’ve tasted, a little tart (possibly due to slightly under-ripe avocados) and in need of some punchier flavour. It was by no means unpleasant but lacked the umph of a great guac. Refried beans were good, but the black beans (not generally my favourite) were an unusually flavourful accompaniment to the beef. I have been converted to a black-beaner and will select them next time I visit Beneto’s Hat.
Overall, this was a fine burrito. The service was sterling – extremely expedient while still being genuinely friendly. A little accompaniment of tortilla chips was a simple but very enjoyable addition to our burritos. A few minor areas for improvement but I shall definitely return to Benito’s Hat.
Doing Your Own Burrito Research
If you’d like extend LBRI’s research on Benito’s Hat then they are here and here [gmaps] details are on their website and they’re also on Twitter at the rather pithily named Benito’s Chat. Do please share the findings of your research either in the comments below or you can tweet me here.
Finally, The London Burrito Research Institute has a home on the Internet. Here in these pages we expect to publish the results of our in-depth research and share exciting new findings as we explore the wonderful world of the burrito. It is a journey and we hope to take you along with us on this crazy wrapped up ride. Please browse the pages of this website to learn a little more about LBRI’s work and how we’re making a brighter, burritoer future. Who knows, maybe we can even inspire you to join us?
There are a number of subscription options we hope you’ll utilise to keep up to date with our work. Thank you for reading and may all your burritos be complete, flavourful and satisfying.
Dr Marcus Chimpington III, PhD, MBCS, LBRIF