With a week’s rest from anything closely resembling a foodie quest, the zoman was lounging about the place, wondering what lay in store ahead.
With his damsel away on a festive shopping spree, the zoman rummaged through his closet and dug out his dusty old iPod. During freer times, this was his go to zone, but his hectic foodie lifestyle had robbed the iPod of its much-touted importance.
Lolling on the recliner with his favorite playlist on, something really interesting happened to the zoman. Just when his iPod began to belt out The Chili Song by The Darts, pop came an invite email. Irony abounds, the invite was for the launch of Chili’s, that’s right, Chili’s. How cool is that.
Thanks be to Arun Soneji, for rounding up the zoman’s favourite bunch of blogger buddies on an exciting quest to celebrate Chili’s third launch in Mumbai, at the Inorbit Malad.
Itineraries were confirmed and the zoman was mighty pleased at yet another opportunity to hang out with the cool cats of the food blogging scene. And what a better way than have a go at a really scrumptious feast that the good folks at Chili’s had laid out for us.
So, here goes my take on our Chili’s soiree.
For a mall outlet or even otherwise, Chili’s is quite a spacious place. Not just in terms of the size of the outlet, but in terms of the seating space available to each diner.
They’ve done up the place in a contemporary American fashion and although Chili’s has been known for their tex mex fare, the ambiance doesn’t reek of a run off the mill diner. I quite liked that the place is done up with a lot of colour and the décor isn’t a drab to the eye in any bit.
Music. When you’re at a blogger’s event and that which happens to be on launch day, the ensuing din almost always tops out the decibel index for normal human ears. Naturally, couldn’t get a feel of the music.
A couple or trio (I’m not sure) of large TV screens put in that much needed element to bring the boys to the house even on game day. That was an ace touch.
As the blogger glitterati descended upon Chili’s, all else was basically forgotten. Per usual, we got the celebrity treatment that a bloggers table usually gets and I couldn’t complain even a tiny ounce.
Point to be highlighted. The servers knew their shiz really well and on a couple of times during the event, made some peachy suggestions that went down very well with us. Kudos!
Be it pure Americano or tex-mex, Chili’s has a muscle to flex. Pardon my pedantic tendencies to rhyme everything, but the spread at Chili’s is insane. One has no option but to put this on a list of “something for everyone” places to eat. The cherry on the cake, is that the drinks menu is equally exhaustive.
There was enough food on the table to feed a parade of baby elephants. Naturally, I couldn’t get my mitts on the entire cast of the fare, but here’s my take on the stuff that found its way to my gut.
A non-alcoholic margarita. Pretty much like painting a color fest in a glass. The pineapple and the orange made for an amazing sweet and sour combo. Considering how it sank to the bottom of the glass, I’m guessing some grenadine was thrown into the mix for that red colour.
The curacao kind of drowned out the pineapple juice and hence this was a bummer. Couldn’t make out what the Chili’s signature mix was. This was pretty much, just a curacao soda. I didn’t like it one bit.
WILD RASPBERRY MARGARITA
I’ve always loved raspberries and strawberries with a bit of citrus drizzled on to them. Naturally, the wild raspberry margarita pandered to my fancies there. The raspberry crush or whatever they used was sweet. And just when you think this will be a flat sweet drink, the lemon and orange wake it up with their citrus twist. Absolutely awesome!
HONEY MELON MARGARITA
Oooooooh! This was a beauty among beauties. Hands down the best thing we had to drink at the Chili’s launch. Even better than most alcoholic offerings. Now everybody knows that honey and lime combined are a great way to lose weight. This margarita might just be the answer to our problems then
Take water, infuse it with tea, chill the mix, add mango syrup and some herbs. Simple, elegant, and a cannot go wrong with combination. Nothing out of the world, but if you want to kick back with a tall drink and are in no mood to experiment, the moji-tea selections at Chili’s would serve you just right.
TEXAS CHEESE POPPERS
Take it with a chilled glass of beer, serve it a house party, or just for that warm fuzzy feeling in your insides. This dish is a beauty!
The cheese literally gushed out like a stream when I forked the popper (sheesh dirty mind)! I liked the cheese, herb, and spice mix on this inside. The crust outside was thin and light, which made eating this a much better experience. For something that was so good on its own, the chipotle dressing didn’t make much of a difference, but I quite its piquant flavour as well.
I’d recommend a chilled pint, or maybe even a glass of vino blanco to go with this.
On countless occasions I have defined Nirvana, as a platter of onion rings served with a pitcher of beer. Profound love, is an understatement for my emotional attachment with this dish and I am highly critical of whoever serves it to me. Chili’s, well just about hit the above average notch.
Yes, the batter was crisp, but peel it off and the onions inside were greasy. The seasoning was alright although a little less of the salt would have made it excellent.
So yeah, I’d eat this again, but not make it my go to onion rings place for sure!
The minute someone says they’re adding queso fresco on the nachos, I am blown away. Why most establishments miss out on this absolutely essential component beats my understanding.
The nachos were crisp despite the molten cheese, the pickled jalapeno, the queso and the cilantro aioli. The entire construct was quite nice. Went well with the non-alco margaritas too.
I would suggest, keep it classic and don’t go making it bolder. The cilantro aioli was nothing above average.
COUNTRY FRIED CALAMARI
The ugly betty of the lot at Chili’s. Looked very unappetizing and I forced myself to take a bite. But then, I wanted to slap myself for not trying this earlier and actually commandeered the entire platter for myself.
The calamari was fried to perfection. The batter was perfect, but just that it spilled here and there in the fryer, hence making the whole thing look ugly. A squeeze of the lemon and that earthy hint from the flat leaf parsley that was so generously added. Chica te quiero !
NON VEGETARAIN TRIPLE DIPPER – CHICKEN WINGS
My dear friend and part of the Guiltess Foodies duo, Arvind, asked that I take a whiff of the wings before I set about eating them. And thanks be to him, it was an olfactory orgasm.
The wing sauce. Que me has hecho.
Even if I wasn’t trained at culinary school, the vinegar, the tobacco, the Worcestershire, and the honey were so distinct and powerful, that they took lesser than a second to move through my nostrils to my brain. The flavour of the garlic hits you at a slightly later stage, but as long as there’s garlic. The world is a better place.
Batter fried perfectly and tossed in the sauce to perfection, even the snootiest of critics might find it a tall order to rate this chica low.
Hands down, the best wings I’ve eaten in India. Do not give this a miss if you’re at Chili’s.
NON VEGETARAIN TRIPLE DIPPER – ORIGINAL CHICKEN CRISPERS
Like a sine wave on a platter. If the wings took you to a high peak, this dish would slump you back into the shitters.
Crispers are meant to be crisp. But this was the antonym, an absolute soggy end product.
The chicken inside was done to perfection.
The batter, I guess was salt based. There was so much of salt, that the salt flats of Kucchh would file a lawsuit claiming property theft.
The dish was too greasy to the touch. But I must say, when I peeled off the batter and ate just the chicken, I quite enjoyed it. So in that case, they could have just served us the chicken without taking the trouble of actually batter frying it
GRILLED CHICKEN BURGER
While the chicken was grilled to perfection, the burger, just like Russell Peter’s comedy, was absolutely dry! Yes, the tomato did add some bit of moisture to the dish, but that’s tantamount to a little child taking the pee on the sands of the Sahara dessert.
Would I have it again? No thank you!
JALAPENO CHICKEN QUESADILLAS
Oooooo la la! Absolutely awesome fajita chicken that was grilled to perfection, served with just the right amount of the jalapeno and onions. Jack cheese sticks well and was used perfectly within the dish.
I’d give this a full five except that the quesadilla was slightly over toasted. But it didn’t make the dish bad by any means. I’d pay to eat it every day.
PHILADELPHIA MELTING CHEESE STEAK
It’s a standard college movie plot. The hottest chicks always have really ugly friends trailing them around trying to be cool. That’s precisely what this dish was. The dish looked nothing close to what it was on the menu.
The veggies weren’t properly sautéed and the onion was pretty much raw.
The crispy fries were awesome, but me speaking about them as the show stealer describes how poor the steak actually was.
The meat was rubbery and my attempts to use the steak knife both with and against the grain failed in portioning out bites from the hunk of meat we were served.
The cheesy sauce held no weight and quickly turned to liquid. Absolutely bad and flat dish.
HONEY CHIPOTLE RIBS
Strictly average I’d say.
If they were trying to make bacon jam out of the ribs or if they were trying to make a porky dessert, I’d give them a 5 on 5. But for an entrée dish, I guess the sweetness was a little too much. Yes, the chilli would definitely hit you at the back of your throat and that greasy goodness that comes with ribs was present too.
But still, considering the sweetness of the dish and the fact that the meat wasn’t peeling off the bone like it should, I cannot go beyond an average mark for this dish.
Hit me with those barbeque wings any day and I am a happy camper.
Despite my usually lukewarm appreciation of texmex food, I was quite pleased with what was served to us. Yes, the American element of the menu was my pick over the Mexican fare, but hey! Each his own right.
So does Chili’s come across as a great place? Yes, but with a certain few caveats that I’ve pointed out in my review.
Would I recommend a visit? Definitely Yes.
Would I come here again? For them darned wings from hell, Hell Yeah!