The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we’d tried Mas Burritos courtesy of vouchers and linked to a few sites that offer ‘special’ deals, including occasional burrito related ones. However I don’t want to give the impression that I’m particularly endorsing these sites – some of the so called special offers seem remarkably unremarkable and most aren’t tempting. However, Dr Chimptington and I have benefitted from a few of these deals so I thought I’d let you know how varied they are before you start clicking on ‘BUY NOW’ without thinking Continue reading

O Burrito Bros, Why Art Thou?

Burrito BrosDr 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.

Guaca-smoothy anyone?

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.

Chilli recipes for you to make and to give to me

Dr Chimpington and I had a burrito last night. One that I’d been looking forward to for ages as I’d heard such good things about Burrito Bros. However, it pains me to report that we were left feeling a bit underwhelmed. One of us will write a review when we’ve got over the disappointment.

In the meantime I thought you might like to see some chilli recipes from the Guardian this week. Cook some and let me know how it goes. Or better still INVITE ME OVER (all in the name of research of course). I’ll bring a bottle!

While I was in there looking at the chilli recipes, I’ve also just spotted some lovely looking recipes in there from the annoyingly perfect soundingThomasina Miers (founder of the awesome Wahaca). Again, invite me over when you decide to cook all of these. Like I always say – it’s not about greed, it’s all about the science*…

* and if you believe that, you’ll believe anything!

Burritos and social networking

(this is a work in progress, I’m just tinkering with this and will be updating it into a proper article as I go along. Thank you for indulging me)

While it certainly doesn’t change my opinion of what a burrito tastes like I wondered recently if I am possibly more inclined to revisit a burrito place if they seem like they actively engage with customers via twitter and facebook.

Like I say, if a place is great then I will visit it regardless, but if there is a choice between two equally tasty burritos then I would probably chose the place that talks to its customers. Speaking from personal experience there is nothing like the buzz when your tweet gets a reply or you get a mention on facebook. I’m still all a-quiver from birthday greetings from Wahaca. More usefully (and slightly less shallowly) it’s heartening to see that certain restaurants take all feedback on board – the good, the bad and most importantly the ugly. We’ve all had bad customer service at some point or other in our lives but it’s how somewhere responds to negative feedback that determines whether or not you give them another chance.

I appreciate that many of these places are super busy and also how much effort it it takes to maintain an online presence, and also that not everybody really cares, but it makes such a difference to customers to be acknowledged.

Adobo Twitter Face book
I loved Adobo and their customer service was amongst the best I’ve encountered. They don’t seem to be into Twitter that much though.
Benito’s Hat Twitter Face Book
Loved Benito’s Hat, loved the cocktails and REALLY REALLY love how they interact with customers on Twitter.
Burrito Bros Twitter Face Book
Boring burritos, they seem to post a lot on facebook but they don’t seem to interact with the burrito massive as well as Benito’s Hat and Chilango.
Chilango Twitter Face Book
The place that is to blame for my addiction. They’re fantastic at acknowledging people on Twitter and keeping an eye out on who is blogging about them. Top notch.
Chipotle Twitter
I know I’m being lazy, but as this is an American company it’s not terribly interesting to a Londoner. They probably do have a UK twitter account though, and if they don’t then they should
Daddy Donkey Twitter
Flying Burritos Twitter Face Book
Aweseome food and lovely customer service and a retweet! That’s what we like to see.
Mas Burrito Twitter Face Book
Mas burritos make a lovely burrito (although second time around was less succesful, maybe because it was busier) and absolutely ZERO presence on Twitter. They’ve never ever tweeted. (eta update, they have since tweeted back in June. Twice)
Picante Twitter Face Book
Awesome awesome Picante, I am so lucky to work nearby. They’re great at keeping you updated on facebook and twitter (eg if they’re going to open late) but don’t seem to interact with people online. Which is odd as the owner (I assume) is one of the most consistently enthusiastic and friendly people.
Poncho 8 Twitter Face Book
I quite like the way they tweet about things that are completely unburrito related (like when they got stuck in the lift). Not my favourite burrito by a long shot, but you kinda feel like you’re friends with them.
Tortilla Twitter Face Book
I have to admit that I barely follow them given how meh the food is. I do follow them in the interest of being thorough but I don’t really read what they say with much interest.
Wahaca Twitter Face Book
Brilliant food and brilliant at keeping in touch with customers online – really charming and witty tweets and posts. Oh and especially awesome for wishing me a happy birthday

Weapons of Mas Consumption

So finally Dr Chimpington & I got round to visiting Mas Burritos. It was a muggy humid day so it felt appropriate to go for a bit of Mexican heat.

There are three branches – a new one near Tower Bridge, one near Chancery Lane on Grays Inn Road and the one that we visited on St Martin’s Lane (just up the road from the ENO)*. I’ve been past a few times, I’ve even been past when I’ve had a burrito urge but both times opted for within-spitting-distance Benito’s Hat (the first time because teeny Mas Burrito was rammed and the second time because it was my birthday and I was worried about having a bad burrito on my birthday).

Well, I needn’t have worried. I have to say, up front, that we had 1/2 price vouchers for these burritos **. I am also happy to add, that despite them knowing we were being tightwad voucher spending customers, they still managed to fill our burritos as full as full can be. I even had a bit of burrito sticking out of the foil it was that full.

2 unopened bundles of burrito lovelieness


Dr Chimpington chose a slow cooked pork one and I had beef (cooked overnight *swoon*). I have to say that I have never had such a meat packed burrito in my life. It’s a good thing the meat was so good as there was a lot of it.

This place was really fun, granted it’s absolutely tiny, but they had Mexican music blasting out at exactly the right volume (not too loud to cause you to shout but loud enough to get your feet tapping). It’s really bright and colourful. The staff seemed really happy and so did the customers. One of them was offering nachos guacamole and salsa outside, ably assisted by the daughter of one of the staff who was absolutely charming them all outside. Sadly she took off her Mexican hat because it was itchy, but she looked adorably sweet in it while it lasted.

Dr Chimpington's burrito


Look at all the MEAT!!!!!

As I mentioned, these were rammed with meat. Slow cooked marinated in vibrant spices melt-in-your-mouth meat. But they were also packed with other goodies too. The black beans were the unmushy variety (I love both mushy and unmushy). The guacamole was chunky. Like Picante they also offer jalapenos (and also like Picante they sell cans of La Costena chillies) . They also offer a sweetcorny option that I’ve not seen offered before. Neither of us went for this but I’d be interested in feedback from any of you that do chose to try it out. My only (very minor) niggle was that it was slightly salty. I tried each element on its own to identify where it was coming from and they all tasted perfectly delicious. It may have just been the humid weather messing with me.

Dr Chimpington bravely pulled his foil off at a very early point in the proceedings. I felt that this was foolhardy of him and did not hesitate to tell him so. He really can be a very wilful scientist sometimes.

Foil off TOO EARLY

Benito’s Hat is around the corner. It’s larger. It has cocktails. But don’t ignore its teeny neighbour. OK so this branch is small but get there early. [/supernanny] Or grab a takeaway and find one of those gems of hidden green bits of London to eat it in. But do check it out.

* they also run a bar called The Poet which also has burritos on the menu. Expect a review SOON.

** the vouchers for this particular deal were from KGB Deals but I have purchased similar vouchers for Burrito Bros fromGroupon and similar deals often feature on Living Social . I am not remotely convinced by many of the offers these sites feature, quite often they don’t seem to be offering a particularly good deal but it may be worth keeping an eye on them for similar discounts (they do seem to mainly offer deals for teeth whitening though, burrito related offers are a rare and welcome breed).

Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo and lots of the burrito places seem to be running promotions to help celebrate.

Explanation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinco_de_Mayo  Cinco de Mayo

Promotions:

http://www.chilango.co.uk/blog/?tag=free-burritos  (free burritos in the spanking new Chancery Lane branch all day, I assume the queues are terrifying)


http://www.picantemexicangrill.co.uk/cinco-de-mayo.php  (Picante  are doing a prize draw if you enter your business card)

Further down the road from Chilango’s free burrito queue is Adobo in  Holborn – http://www.adobomexican.com/  Adobo is running a promotion where if you throw a dice it decides if you get any freebies – roll a one for a free drink, a three for tortilla chips and guacamole and a five for a FREE BURRITO!!!!!

Poncho8  is giving away guacamole & salsa http://www.poncho8.com/ 

Tortilla are giving away a free corona with each burrito http://tortilla.co.uk/  I still think this place is bland though

Other places are bound to be doing promotions too –  check ‘em out to see, here are a few to try…..

http://www.wahaca.co.uk/

 http://www.benitos-hat.com/  

 http://www.masburritos.com/

http://www.daddydonkey.co.uk/

http://www.burritobros.co.uk/

http://www.thepoetbar.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=2

Burritos: The Making Of(ish)

Once upon a time there were two friends and colleagues, Dr Frost- Rathbone and Dr Marcus Chimpington. Together this crime busting duo fought to bring an end to evil. Well an end to evil burritos at any rate. We’ll leave the actual crime busting to our boys in blue. I mean the police by the way – rather than lovely* Coventry FC or stupid Chelsea FC.

For her birthday, Dr Rathbone received a burrito making kit from her friends
Dan and Pamela . They also gave her a massive bottle of gin, some malteaster bunnies and some frazzles – you can see why she’s friends with them. Anyway, this is her story – The Day She Made Burritos.

Burrito in a box

Inside the box were tortillas, salsa and a sachet of beany stuff to make a chilli with. You supply ground (yes I do mean mince but I’m trying to be poncey and cheffy) beef, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce. As you will find out later YOU WILL NEED TO ADD MORE THAN THIS.

out of the box

I didn’t get lettuce, because I forgot and, frankly you try finding things on Easter Sunday. But I did get avacados and coriander because that’s how I roll.
Dr Chimpington deftly chopped tomatoes and some coriander and also made a stonking guacamole – or rather he decided to take over when I started to make a stonking guacamole [/control freak]. He also chopped some green pepper to add to the beef to give it a bit more ooomph. I had the easy job – I grated the cheese and stirred the beef.

the stuff we did

There’s not much to say about the cooking – you fry up beef, chuck in some sauce and, erm, that’s it. I really would add some onions and peppers and some extra chilli if I were you and fling on some coriander leaves afterwards. The beany sauce is a combination of refried beans with extra kidney beans thrown in for good measure. It was ok, in an artificial kinda way, but it needed more kick.

The assemblage involved laying/chucking stuff on the tortilla. The tortillas were smaller than the ones you get in burrito places and that’s the excuse I am giving for not making a beautiful fat self contained burrito.

Blurry assemblage part II


burrito on plate

So here you go, very blurry. A Blurrito if you will. I would tell you the name of the featured nail varnish but this is a serious scientific article and NOT Cosmo. Oh go on then, it’s Nails Inc in Paris and I got it free with a bottle of diet coke some time last year.

blurrry burrito in hand

burrito in a hand

It was fun, it reminded me of being in my teens/early twenties making tacos or burgers for self assembly by large groups of inebriated friends. It was nice to ‘cook’ (I use the term loosely) with Dr Chimpington because he never lets anybody else into his lab (er, kitchen). But the fantastic thing about places like Picante, Benito’s Hat, Chilango , Adobo and Wahaca ** is the flavours It’s because you can taste so many things going on in each and every bite. The meat is usually slow cooked or char grilled with heaps of infused flavour, the salsa has been blended to perfection and, let’s not forget that the rice (a surprise to me on my first experience) makes a huge difference. Next time I’d just get the wraps and make the rest from scratch. I would certainly not use their bland salsa again – it was too fake and too sweet and too claggy. I made two burritos (in the name of science rather than sheer greed) and the salsa free one was by far superior.

They were fine and we had fun, they were never going to win a burrito oscar, but they certainly weren’t the accepted definition of a burrito. They were Tex-Mex wraps.

*Happy now Matt? Honestly, the things I do for family harmony!

** Disclaimer: There are other Burrito Temples available. They might not be that nice but they are out there.

I, Harriet, take thee Burrito

I’ve not been to Wahaca for AGES and had forgotten how much I love it.

I hooked up with my friend Martin in Soho for a long awaited catch up and was considering dragging him to Bodeans for a meatfest but as we aimlessly wandered up Wardour St I spotted a new (well, new to me at any rate) Wahaca and that was that.

We started with a cocktail each and both chose the plump pork burrito. I wanted to marry this burrito. It was fat and stuffed with flavour. Lightly sealed on the outside and brimming with gorgeous slow cooked pork, this was a burrito made and eaten with love.

Picante Mexican Grill

This week I took Dr Chimpington to Piccante on Monday and then went back with my friend Pamela who was celebrating her birthday on Friday 18th.  I love this place.  Most of my colleagues now go there, so the burrito word is spreading fast and wide.

They have a wider choice of meat than most places – 2 chickens and 2 beef (one of each grilled and one of each slow cooked) not to mention the lovely slow cooked tender pork.  So far my favourite is (probably) the char grilled steak.  But I will need to try a bit more from their menu (eg tacos) before I can decide

Burrito Week: The Challenge (FAIL)

I had last week off work. So I decided to set myself the challenge of having a burrito every day. You don’t need to trawl through to the end, I will put my hands in the air here and now and admit to a big fat burrito fail. I didn’t have the stamina. I will get into burrito training though and one day, soon, I shall rise to the challenge and achieve burrito supremacy.

Monday 7th
I hadn’t decided to set the challenge on Monday morning, but there was a skirt that I wanted that wasn’t in my size anywhere in central London so when I woke up I set myself a different challenge entirely. Off I trotted to Bluewater. I say trotted, it’s in a whole other county so I actually went by car on my hunt for the elusive skirt. The elusive skirt remains elusive, I couldn’t find it and had to leave Bluewater skirtless. Well, apart from the skirt I was already wearing (so not literally skirtless). My failure to track down the skirt upset me and left me with time on my hands so I went back to the source of my burrito obsession. The Chilango in Bluewater. I knew what to order this time though and went for a steak one, with medium salsa. It was, predictably, lovely. Skirt? What skirt?

Tuesday 8th
Tuesday was pancake day. It was also International Women’s Day. More importantly it was also my birthday. I started off the day by meeting my sister, the very lovely @lucyarathbone, in music & notes (thanks go to the esteemed burritologist @jasonbstanding for the recommendation) . Lucy had never had a burrito before so, like any good sister, I wanted her frist time to be special. I considered going to Wahaca but I wanted Lucy to eat her first burrito in her hands, I also considered Mas Burrito as I had not been there before (it’s on the list. I repeat it is on the list) but it was because I had not been there before that I steered us round the corner to Benito’s Hat. I knew Benito’s Hat and I knew it was good. One of the nice things about Benito’s Hat for any burrito virgins is that they’ve plastered instructions and options on the wall so it’s a less daunting experience than other places who will remain nameless

Benito's Hat 8th March

Wednesday


My linguist friend wanted to see the John Stezaker exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and I wanted a burito. We decided to combine forces and met up in Liverpool St. I’d not been toPoncho 8. The queue extended quite a long way outside but we were not to be thwarted by this. It’s a nice bright shop with stripy floors. The staff were all wearing hairnets, even the bloke. I appreciate health & safety and I appreciate that people don’t want to find hair in their food, but is there anything uglier than a hair net? I assume it was because it was busy but the service, while friendly enough was slightly brusque. I do prefer the perky helpful friendliness of Adobo, Picante and Chilango, however efficient brusque makes you. Actually they weren’t that efficient – normally you get asked if you want things like salsa, and if you’re a hardened burrito eater you know to ask for things if they’re not offered. This was only my friend’s second burrito so when they didn’t offer him salsa he didn’t notice. It was only when he tried mine and I told him which salsa I’d gone for that he realised. As a result his packed slightly less flavour and was a bit too dry.

er

The tables, rather disconcertingly had bottles of hand wash on them, they also had lime quarters which added a nice extra bit of colour and, if you chose to squeeze, a bit more zing to the burrito

There was too much tortilla – (see below) and although this was certainly a nice enough burrito it lacked the depth of flavour and the way that every single mouthful tasted different of the burritos of the previous two days

Too much wrap, not enough flavour