Wrapchic

It’s a while since I last updated the blog, but not because burritos have lost their meaty shine. With their tender rice, gently caressing chicken and whispery wrappings, they will always be close to my heart. But after losing my own meaty shine, I started eating things like salad and brown rice. I KNOW.

But clearly, all is not lost. Because when a new burrito joint opened mere footsteps from the office where I weave my magic by writing about puffy labia and periods, I felt a familiar urge overtaking me. I wanted to feel like a woman again. A woman who eats burritos so fast she spends the afternoon trying not to burp. (Because I’m not just a woman – I’m a LADY, too).

Wrapchic doesn’t conform to the rules of the blog (or the rules of choosing a name for your business which doesn’t sound like the manager’s mum made it up, either). The rules specify that I have to have the same thing every time I review a burrito joint (a woman, a lady and a PROFESSIONAL). But I made up the rules, so whatever.

Instead of offering classic burritos – a choice of pork, chicken or beef, two types of bean, three levels of heat – Wrapchic specialises in Indian-style burritos. Fillings include mutton (Madrasi or Panjabi style), chicken (Mughlai, Chettinad or Rajasthani style), and fish Malabari, and sauces tend towards the exotic – think pineapple and mango chutney rather than hot, hotter and hottest.

But when I saw the queues snaking out of its new branch on Beak Street, I wanted to BE that snake. Like this. The day I ventured out of my office to Wrapchic’s tiny premises, I was being incredibly brave. It was the day of the Great Storm of ’13 (remember? Ahh, those were the days).

On my way to work I’d encountered a bus wearing a tree, as if it were heading for Shoreditch and had purchased an appropriately out-there hat, and a branch obstructing my path. The under- AND over-grounds were out of action (what would the Wombles have to say about THAT?), and I’d had to be really very intrepid to get to work at all, like a sexy Moses.

A storm's a'coming. ARRR, Jim lad.

A storm’s a’coming. ARRR, Jim lad.

I decided I deserved a reward. A reward wrapped in silver foil and smelling of curry.

Heading to Wrapchic early to beat the queues, I didn’t have to wait long to reach the counter, although getting a seat wasn’t an option. Boasting five stools, two of which are uselessly propped against a windowsill a lot lower than the seats, Wrapchic could quickly lower overheads by being a burrito van rather than an actual shop.

Luckily, Golden Square and its wealth of benches is just around the corner, as is my lovely cosy office, so you can still sit and eat, whether you’re me or otherwise.

I chose the chicken Mughlai option (“Tikka style chicken served with tikka sauce”) because beneath my wildly exotic exterior, I’m ever so slightly boring. The disconcertingly friendly server told me this was their most popular option. Brits, eh?

Unlike traditional (or “trad”) burrito joints, Wrapchic offers just one type of rice (plain white) and one type of bean (kidney). But there are a wealth of other options to delight the connoisseur – two salads, around six sauces, and plenty of sides. You can also add extras like cheese and sour cream for an extra 75p on top of a base rate of £4.95, which is both expensive and probably a bit unnecessary.

So, the burrito: I worried that the odd combination of Indian and Mexican might be a bit weird, but I needn’t have. The chicken was very tasty, well cooked and plentiful, the different sauces blended well together (the staff will guide you if you get scared and confused) while the rice – not flavoured with tomato or coriander as it usually is – added texture rather than flavour, which was fine when everything else packed such a punch.

A burrito, bravely battling the weather.

A burrito, bravely battling the weather.

Some people have found that the burristas wrap the burrito the wrong way, meaning they get gobfuls of rice then beans then meat – a heinous crime against the Burrito God indeed (who is the God of Burritos, anyway? Burrus?). But this isn’t something I experienced on my visit, so I didn’t have to have a stern word.

My main criticism was that there’s so much liquid, no burrito wrap could possibly be man enough (or woman enough – a woman, a lady, a professional and a FEMINIST) to handle the job. As well as the watery beans, my wrap had to contend with tikka sauce, tomato salsa and two types of chutney.

Until they make burrito wraps which resemble that kitchen towel that doesn’t rip even when you really want to tear a bit off just to blow your nose or something, the fate of every Wrapchic wrap is to start off all delicious, and end its life as a sad, dribbly pile of rice and meat and broken-up bits of wrap all covered in red sauce, swimming in a puddle of foil.

At one point, my boss poked her head over my desk to ask me something. As I looked up – mouth and hands smeared with red gloop, much of which was making its way hastily towards the cuffs of my cardigan – she looked slightly horrified and said she’d come back later.

I smiled, which in retrospect was probably a bad idea. I must have looked like a lioness polishing off a wildebeest carcass.

Overall, Wrapchic was a positive experience. Much like the Great Storm, it was Mexican-inspired, slightly overhyped, messy and wet – but I’ll definitely be going back for more.

Mood before: Wet and windy

Mood after: Wetter, windier, fuller

Ratings: Food: 7/10, Ambience: 4/10, Staff: 5/10, Value: 7/10

Where: Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry, Derby and London

Closest tube: Oxford Circus

Web: Find them here / @Wrapchic

Recommended?: Yes. And things can only get better.

Mi Casa Burritos

On occasion, I allow lucky fans of writing and food and writing about food the opportunity to write a guest blog (like this one, by Gary Bainbridge). I know, I’m like the Queen. So when famed dandy and self-styled feminist of Twitter, @Biltawulf, told me he was at Victoria Station and looking for something to eat, I suggested he head to Mi Casa Burritos and blog about the experience.

In a slight departure from the usual style of the blog, Biltawulf seems to have no idea how to eat a burrito properly, or what one should taste like, or how to describe food, and has adopted a flagrantly comedic style. At least, I really hope he has.

I agreed not to stifle his creativity because he fixed my phone last week by updating it to iOS6 and making it extra annoying, but with a little moon at the top. I will be adding my own review of Mi Casa, where the rating is not based on a unique ‘red peppers’ scale in due course. If I can find it, that is. New Google Maps is rubbish.

I worked late this evening on the outskirts of London in the pleasant spa town of Bromley (I was at the end of the promenade that is home to both TK Maxx AND Wilkinsons). Unfortunately some of the better restaurants Bromley has to offer closed at around 5:30pm (Greggs, Vision Express) so I wandered into the town’s main railway station and requested that the staff prepare me a compartment on the express train back to Victoria.

After a pleasantly rapid journey, the train pulled into London Victoria just after 8:00pm. Once my bags had been removed from the carriage I set about locating a decent place for dinner. I must confess to having been somewhat ravenous and with an almost feline hunger for meat. I took stock of my surroundings and, cane in hand, sauntered around the various bistros, trattorias, diners and tearooms.

Being a thoroughly modern man I am not afraid of a little experimentation and it was thus that I came to settle on a South American restaurant to satisfy my hunger. With a welcoming frontage and a prime spot on the station concourse, the promise of some Mexican magic drew me in to Mi Casa Burritos. Mi Casa translates literally as ‘my house.’ I’m not sure who would live in a railway station, though it was handily placed for the lavatories so I didn’t probe them with embarrassing questions.

Goodness me, the service was prompt. Before they had even taken my coat I was asked to place my order. I chose the chicken burrito with cheese and sour cream. I opted not to add Guacamole (my grandfather was captured by some rogue Aztecs in the late 1800s and forbade us ever to speak of Avocado, let alone eat it) but did allow the addition of some coriander, lime and a ‘medium’ salsa.

The entire dish was wrapped in front of me and resembled something not unlike the sort of compact snack that I imagine a Mexican woman would take to her husband toiling in the fields at around midday (exactly as the website suggests). It should be said that I assume most Mexican women would also have access to significant quantities of silver foil. This little baby resembled a lunar rocket. Having handed over my £6.95 (service not included) I turned to see where I would sit to eat.

There were no seats. I’m not saying the place was full, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m saying there were literally no seats. No seats, no tables, nothing. I turned back to the maitre d’ who, incorrectly interpreting my confusion as a sign of thirst pointed me towards the wine list. It was an ABOMINATION. I asked him directly where I was to sit, perhaps he could quickly direct me to the annex. He stared back at me, “Sir, this is a takeaway.” I drew back hastily, I had heard tell of such places on the wireless.

Sighting what can only be described as a ‘cup of forks’  I stopped briefly, taking one. It was made of plastic. I was unable to locate knives, spoons, glasses or napkins so hurriedly continued to make my retreat and once again found myself on the station concourse. I was unnerved, dear reader, unnerved and much vexed by my situation so sought a swift return home. I boarded the sleeper service to Wandsworth Common and sat down in one of the open carriages, without even bothering to take a compartment.

Again, be it the adrenaline subsiding or just the sheer relief of having left Mi Casa Burritos, I felt another pang of hunger. Looking down on the seat next to me I eyed the brown paper bag containing the silver Mexican space rocket. Could I eat it here? Amongst the ordinary London working man? I decided to treat this as an adventure and unwrapped the lunar module.

It was a weighty beast, make no mistake. If you want to be able to make a comparison, think of a gentleman’s slipper, filled with corn. I plunged my plastic fork into the soft, flat bread to see what my prize contained. The chicken resembled pulled pork in texture. Sadly it looked a little more stewed than pulled. I tried a little on its own, openly putting the food to my lips in the half full carriage. Anyway, I tasted it. Well I think I did. It didn’t really taste of anything. I put the fork down.

A burrito, as eaten by a man who has no idea how to eat a burrito

A burrito, as eaten by a man who has no idea how to eat a burrito, yesterday

Now I’m no stranger to international cuisine, and I am well aware that often the sauce can really make the dish. I presumed that this is what would happen here. It certainly wouldn’t be the rice, though I suspect my old school’s cook would have been proud to call that a pudding. I had chosen the ‘medium’ sauce. Unfortunately, it would be better named the ‘bland’ sauce. At best, putting the whole thing together and humiliatingly and publicly forcing it into my mouth I got a mild taste of gooseberries. The sour cream tasted like sour cream (job done on that front!) and the cheese certainly was not unlike a generic grated cheese. As a whole though, this was surprisingly bland for a dish that had travelled almost 5,000 miles.

There was one little bit of excitement. About halfway through my entire jaw was jolted as I bit on what I could only imagine was a large block of steel. It actually turned out to be a piece of bone longer and thicker than my finger. This was at least some proof that the meat was from an animal (but how big are chicken fingers? )

A bone as big as an exceptionally small finger, yesterday

A bone as big as an exceptionally small finger, yesterday

I am not a regular eater of burritos. My staff often eat fajitas and sometimes I find myself below stairs stealing a little one while cook is steaming a duff. They have a spicy, hot flavour which I find most exhilarating (and not a little devilish).  I certainly can’t say the same thing about Mi Casa Burritos. Were I to sneak downstairs to find cook had knocked some up I’d probably just help with the washing up. Back to the more authentic surroundings of Chiquitos in Leicester Square for me. Now that’s a real Mexican.

Ratings:

Mood before: Open-minded citizen of the world

Mood after: UKIP

Value: 5 Red Peppers (I have no idea how much these things normally cost)

Staff: 4 Red Peppers Civil, not over-friendly (no unwanted touching)

Food: 1 Red Pepper (Would be improved by adding more red peppers)

Location: 2 (handy for trains, handier for public conveniences)

Overall: 12 Red Peppers (I just added up the above numbers)

Where: Victoria Station, London, England.

Taco Bell

Hi there. My name is Mullies, and this is my burrito blog. It’s been a long time. Some might say TOO long. I’m not sure who those people are, because no-one seems to have noticed my absence, but still. I’m sure loads of people are saying it.

I haven’t updated this blog for over a year, after I noticed at the tail-end of 2011 that I’d gained a stone. Thoroughly mystified, I did some detective work and was horrified to discover that burritos are NOT a diet food! I KNOW, right? Anyway, because I still sometimes wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of my arteries, I didn’t have a single takeaway burrito during 2012.

Until, that is, I found Taco Bell.

On the face of it, Basildon has little going for it. In fact, it had just three things:

1. I was born there, which both lends the town a certain je ne sais quoi and means that to this day, a soft golden light hovers over the local hospital.

2. The council saw fit to officially rename Festival Leisure Park – a car park surrounded by a nightclub, a bowling alley and about 500 kebab vans – according to the locals’ nickname for it, ‘Bas Vegas,’ even erecting Vegas-style signage. A fine homage for an area Wikipedia describes as, ‘a well-known trouble spot’ (citation needed).

3. Musical comedy act Kunt and the Gang are from Basildon.

Basildon, you BEAUTY

Basildon, you BEAUTY

But now, there is a fourth, gleaming positive to add to Basildon’s impressive list of plus-points. Taco Bell is famed throughout the US, and name-checked in several sitcoms, films and interviews with Roseanne Barr. When it chose to expand to the UK, Yum! Brands Inc, Taco Bell’s optimistically named founding father, clearly thought long and hard about where to open it’s purple doors. And in a stroke of genius, it chose Manchester, Lakeside and…BASILDON.

Yes: Basildon is, improbably, home to one of only three Taco Bells in the entire UK. So when I went home for Christmas (in nearby Billericay, whence my parents fled when I was 11), I knew I owed it to you – the loyal fans of Mullies’ Burrito Blog who definitely noticed it hasn’t been updated for a year – to go there.

The day after Boxing Day, all round and full of turkey sandwiches, I dragged my mum to Basildon in the pouring rain. Basildon, home to the Eastgate Centre, home to the Food Court, home to a third of the UK’s Taco Bells. It was a glamorous semi-colon between Christmas and New Year, and Mum looked appropriately thrilled.

My only obstacle to sampling Taco Bell’s delights was that it’s adjacent to a Domino’s outlet. Above all things, even burritos, I love pizza. And Dominos, the little scamps, were offering a mouth-watering lunch deal involving a doughy delight, side AND drink for about 10p or something. But I knew I had to be strong. So, like a pizza-loving Lady Macbeth, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, averted my eyes, and marched to the counter.

Now, loyal fans of Mullies’ Burrito Blog (who definitely noticed it hasn’t been updated for a year), will know that Taco Bell doesn’t fit the blog’s stringent criteria. Unless it’s a guest post, in order to be reviewed a burrito has to come from London and contain the standard chicken, black beans, cheese, sour cream and hot sauce combo, in the interests of fairness.

Unfortunately Taco Bell is NOT BK, and does NOT let you have it your way. So instead, I decided to go for the VOLCANO BURRITO, which had minced beef in it and looked amazing and disgusting and like a kiss and a disappointing lover and a kind of floppy sad clown-face all at once. As Taco Bell’s Dad might say: Yum!

It came with paprika chips (which were, incidentally, AMAZING) and a drink for the bargain price of  *mumbles because I didn’t write it down.* I also threw in three different sachets of hot sauce because, hey, it’s CHRISTMAS. Then – inappropriately excited for a grown woman with things like a job in London and a family and eyes and ready access to food – I took my first bite of a Taco Bell burrito…

A festive Basoburrito

Basoburrito!

…And it was lovely. Quite possibly, it was lovely because I’ve barely thrown a coy glance in the direction of a burrito in the past year. Or perhaps it was lovely because my tastebuds have been shrivelled and wizened by a diet primarily comprising pizza, noodles and gin for the best part of 35 years. But still, it was squidgy and hot and meaty and cheesy and ricey and delicious.

I’d rhapsodise about the balance of ingredients and all that, but I couldn’t actually discern any of them individually. It was like eating a toddler’s finger painting and having to name the colours. It didn’t matter. I’ve eaten a Taco Bell in Basildon. I win.

Mood before: IT’S CHRIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAS!

Mood after: IT’S CHRIIIIIIISTMMMMAAAAAN THOSE CHIPS WERE GOOD!

Rating: Food 7/10, Ambience 2/10, Staff 4/10, Value 8/10

Where: Lakeside, Basildon, Manchester.

Web: Find them here  /@TacoBell

Recommended?: Yes, although don’t blame me if you have to go to Basildon to do it.

Adobo

Let’s get this out of the way first: Adobo is an annoying name for a restaurant. It doesn’t sound like a film about a small boy’s relationship with a wild animal like Freebird, or provide the clanging tongue-satisfaction of Chilango. No: it sounds like it would smell of patchouli and sell knickers made of hemp.

But instead, it deals with another kind of tongue satisfaction: selling very nice burritos. I knew the burritos were very nice before I travelled to Holborn where Adobo’s abode abides, because I’d been there previously – but I was in a bit of a bad mood and decided to try again when I had nicer things to write about.

This time, I went with the owl, @Wowser, but unfortunately he was in a bit of a bad mood too. Maybe it’s all Adobo’s fault, but let’s assume not.

With commendable honesty, Adobo have resisted the urge to label their two sizes of burrito ‘Gigantic,’ and ‘Gigantic plus,’ in the manner of McDonalds, instead sticking to the traditional ‘small’ and ‘large.’

Even better, Adobo’s idea of small is most places’ idea of large, so they’re both honest AND generous. If Adobo was a man, it would be Moses or Jesus. Or maybe Noah. The final bit of good news came when I discovered that Adobo’s burritos are just £4.50 after 5pm, down from the usual £5.80 for regular and £4.80 for small.

At least, it would have been happy if I hadn’t discovered this at the till after ordering a small burrito to save money. Damn my very eyes! (Although I looked afterwards and couldn’t see any signs about the offer, so it wasn’t really my eyes’ fault.)

As it was, a small burrito was plenty, and plenty delicious, to boot. Although they offered brown rice (bloody hippies), I went for the traditional cilantro-flavoured white rice, then the usual chicken, black beans, sour cream and cheese. I also added a bit of sweetcorn relish, as my monthly nod towards eating some vegetables.

Not a small one. My phone ran out of battery, so this is the large one from my first visit. And a beer. Mmm, beer.

The service was friendly, although Wowser was disappointed at the lack of blatant flirtation which had made our visit to Chilango such a hit. He also pointed out that the presence of meatball burritos and chorizo on the menu wasn’t very authentic, but I just ignored him on the grounds that a meatball burrito would probably be lovely and chorizo is ace.

Two types of sauce were on offer, which made me very happy – the usual orangey hot one, and a very nice gloopy brown one, which Wowser described as ‘Mexican HP’. It was absolutely delicious.

My burrito was juicy but not too juicy, with nicely-done, flavourful chicken, and generous portions of everything in all the right places. Sweetcorn salsa is always a delicious addition too, and will stop me getting scurvy. Thanks, corn! 

Wowser’s burrito was a bit leaky, leaving water puddling in his tin foil wrap, which was a bit weird. We thought at first maybe the burrito was crying, but then realised it was probably the fault of overly watery pinto beans.

Overall, I was much more impressed than the owl, but then I invented the word ‘burrista’ and he didn’t, so who do you trust more, hmm?

Mood before: ‘Kay

Mood after: ‘Kay. Full. 

Rating: Food 7/10, Ambience 6/10, Staff 7/10, Value 10/10 after 5pm, 8/10 before.

Where: 87 High Holborn, London UK, W1CV 6LS

Closest tube: Holborn.

Web: Find them here /@AdoboMexican

Recommended?: Yes, especially after 5pm.

Dos Toros (NY, US)

As you will know if you’ve read how it all began, you’ll know that this blog started when I went to New York for work and had a delicious Chipotle burrito. But that isn’t the full story. It was, in fact, @Nexeus , who I met while I was working, who told me to go to Chipotle in the first place. It’s all thanks to him (unless you’re my waistline, in which case it’s all his fault). And now, taking the blog into INTERNATIONAL, SUPER-GLAMOROUS TERRITORY, he has kindly written a guest blog about another New York burrito joint…

To say I’m the inspiration and the reason this blog exists is an understatement. I remember when the cute writer from the UK sat across from me at a bar/restaurant in Union Square, when our conversation quickly turned to food. We then stumbled upon the question of lunch.

“Chipotle!” I exclaimed!

“But I-“

“Chipotle!!”

“Where do-“

“CHIPOTLE!!! What is there to understand, just go and get one dammit!!” I said as I slammed my fist down, the room suddenly focused on me.

There was a pause before the room jumped up and performed the celebratory Chipotle burrito dance. Okay, well the conversation didn’t happen in that style, but it was damn close.

A few days ago, Mullies sent me a tweet saying, “Do you see what you’ve done to me?!” I smiled happily at the screen as I noticed she had created this blog as an ode to the burrito. I find it funny how the pure reason she came to New York was to meet me, the NY master of the burrito (or maybe it was some fashion show…), and became inspired to create this loving burrito memoir. 

Since that warm summer day, we have become burrito lovers, which I hope doesn’t interfere with her current relationship. However, out of our love of all this burritos, I felt it my duty to provide a guest post from the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Burrito (or something like that!)

Clearly, in both my and Mullies’ travels, the Chipotle burrito is the best burrito known to man (or our mouths). I find it interesting, how good this fast food chain, has some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. I’m told that, due to their different standards of Burrito making, England is filled with grumpy people who mull around the streets all day, because their Burritos are so low of standard.

You can trace the origin of Burrito’s to Mexico, and the current day standard from the American South-West (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona) and west (California), which share a border with Mexico. Where to get a burrito has become a standard, one that California has invented.

A burrito place isn’t a large fancy place with seating, but a small spot where you get the burrito you want, by choosing your meat, seasoning, and place the delicious wrapped heaven in your mouth. The ambiance of the place is basic, some Hispanic music playing in the background (usually Salsa, or Mexican), with wooden or simple metal tables where you can eat the beautiful burrito and grab onto them as the feeling of ecstasy rushes over you. Yes, you’re welcome for that description! 

In New York City (or it’s more formal name, the Center of the Universe), a fairly new place opened up, mimicking the style of the West Coast burrito shop, and it’s called Dos Toros.

Dos Toros is a small shop, on 4th, barely a block away from Union Square, and pays homage to burrito culture, while practicing green and sustainable living, such as partnering with recyclable initiatives. While that’s great, if their Burritos sucked, I would have to move on elsewhere.

Compared to the Chipotle burrito, Dos Toros is a smaller burrito, with less options. Your choices are meat, salsa, hot sauce, and quac. I had the steak burrito, with tomato salsa, no quac, and no hot sauce. I wanted to see if it could hold up on its own.

On the first bite, the burrito had potential, but was nowhere near the explosive flavor that I’m used to. The more I bit into the burrito, I became more disappointed, it lacked flavor. The beauty of this dish is, ingredients are wrapped and turned into a flavorful pile of delicious Hispanic heaven. 

An American burrito, yesterday. It's probably thinking, 'How YOU doin'?'.

Any burrito that requires a significant amount of hot sauce is not only performing the dish wrong, but should go out of business and set up shop elsewhere. Dos Torros is far from that, but this Burrito definitely needed spice to make it taste better. It shocked me, because Dos Toros follows many of the same mantras that Chipotle does, such as using organic meat, and local ingredients.

However, a burrito from Chipotle can, in some cases, act as forms of currency, or sex. Dos Toros was clearly  lacking something.

I have to admit, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been to Dos Toros, and I’ve had mixed results. This review was a way to see if my initial thoughts of the place were accurate. Sadly they are. The service is great, the people are friendly, and unique, and fun to talk to, if it’s not too busy.

The place is spat right out of California, so the tables are all hard wood, and sturdy. Clearly, this is a place where burritos are made from the angelic hands of God and Goddesses and delivered to your mouth. But upon taste, disappointment settled in. I had such high hopes. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Mood Before: Confident, Happy, Excited, And Thrilled

Mood After: Confident, Happy, Exited, and Disappointed

Rating: Food 7/10, Ambience 8/10, Staff 9/10, Value 8/10

Where: 137 4th Avenue in New York City

Closet Subway (or what you UK call the ‘Tube’): Union Square (L, 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R, or W)

Web: http://dostoros.com / @DosTorosNYC

Recommended: Yes

Picante

So, it turns out that relationships can play havoc with a previously thriving burrito blog. When a) your other half isn’t keen on burritos*, you’ve suddenly got to be seen naked and have gained a stone thanks to burritos, and your new hobby is playing Scrabble in pubs instead of eating burritos, it really puts a dampener on the whole burrito-blogging business. Plus, I broke my laptop when it fell off the bed (ahem).

It was worth it.

But relationships can also be good for a burrito blog. At least they were just this once. Following a visit to Mr Mullies’ homeland of Wolverhampton, we were due to arrive back in London with plenty of time to catch Picante before it shut. It being one of the many burrito joints in London only open at lunchtime on weekdays, this was very good news indeed.

At least it seemed like good news, until train delays (a dodo riding a unicorn blocking the line with magic beans or something) meant we had about five minutes to catch Picante before it shut.

Now, I’m no stranger to Mission Impossible-style jaunts to find a good burrito. But we had several bags (to be fair, Mr Mullies was saddled with most of these, like an alluring pack horse), it was a hot day, and my sense of direction is worse than Frankie Cocozza’s hair. By the time we got to Picante – a cute, blue-fronted building down an invisible side street in Victoria – Mr Mullies was crying, and the staff were sitting down for their lunch.

Bluer than the blue, blue sea. Or a blueberry.

We must have looked suitably pitiable though, because the very friendly owner let us in anyway, and served us up two delicious-looking burritos for a mere £5 each – although sour cream was 20p extra, which was a bit weird.

It was worth the extra cash, however, as Picante burritos are really rather nice. My hot sauce was a bit too hot, which was my fault for ordering it. But, as I was already sweatier than Greg Wallace checking out The Great British Bake-Off’s ratings, it was a bit uncomfortable. It was also a little too cheesy, but there the criticisms end. It was lovely and juicy, with very tasty chicken, a well-packed by not over-stuffed wrap, and a great balance of ingredients. 

A burrito anointed with sweat, yesterday

Considering it was the very end of the day, it tasted completely fresh. Plus the staff were super-friendly, and – as if that wasn’t good enough – Picante also offers the opportunity to buy some very tiny, very strong magnets after you’ve eaten your tasty burrito.**

Holds six sheets of A4 paper!

My packhorse declared his the best he’d ever eaten (bearing in mind he’s a rank amateur), and less oily than Tortilla, which has a branch underneath his office. Then he admitted that what had initially been a begrudging duty had blossomed into a delight. Put THAT on your sales blurb, Mr Picante!

So impressed was he, that he urged me to take a photo of his empty plate, suggesting it would be an excellent addition to my blog. Being a journalist, he should have realised this is the equivalent of someone telling him a long and involved story about a cat trapped under some decking then proudly saying, ‘Stick THAT in your magazine!’ But I’ve decided to humour him anyway:

Ta-da! *Proudface*

Overall, Picante is a lovely little place, perfect for lunch if you’re in the area and aching for some hot burrito action. Or some very small magnets.

*I know, I know. But he won Countdown, so I forgive him.

**This, apparently, being the owner’s sideline. Hmm.

Mood before: Tired but happy, like a child after a trip to Legoland

Mood after: Sweaty 

Rating: Food 7/10, Ambience 7/10, Staff 9/10, Value 8/10

Where: 18 Greencoat Row, SW1P 1PQ. The number’s 0207 834 0027 in case you get lost and need to phone them like we did. 

Closest tube: Victoria

Web: Find them here /@Picantegrill_UK, but the owner says he doesn’t do Twitter much, although his wife has the odd look. You’re better off finding them on Facebook.

Recommended?: Yes, definitely.

Chipotle (US)

If you have read about how this blog began (and if not, WHY NOT?) you’ll know that it’s all Chipotle’s fault. After going to New York and having a burrito more delicious than any other burrito ever, I decided to find its equivalent in London. Then went on to put on a stone – the things I bloody do for you, eh?

So you can imagine how excited I was to land a press trip to Florida, which is simply bursting at the seams with Chipotles. During the course of the trip, I fell off a Segway while travelling at around 0.005 mph, went to a circus show called Grandma and Friends where a man with a nice bottom did some trampolining, and discovered how I measure up to a manatee:

Mullies: Definitely not as big as a manatee.

Yet despite these delights, I was most excited about going back to Chipotle and checking that I hadn’t been hallucinating when I decided they were nice enough to warrant a blog which has cost me time, money and my sex appeal.

Brilliantly, when the press trip organisers found out about my blog, they actually adjusted our itinerary to allow time to pop into a branch on the way to the airport. Maybe in doing this I missed finding out how I measure up to a giraffe or an otter or something, but I feel this was a small price to pay.

The branch we went to was surprisingly empty, although maybe it wasn’t all that surprising at all, seeing as Americans have constant access to yummy burritos and don’t have to make the most of it when they finally find one that doesn’t taste like a baby robot only a mummy robot could love.

Chipotle: rhymes with Segway but a lot harder to fall off

I ordered the usual (chicken, black beans, no bloody guacamole), and practically swooned to see them heaping ingredients onto a huge wrap, rather than dribbling them onto a tortilla the size of a jam jar lid like they so often do over here. Plus it was only about £5. Cashback! (Literally. I got $2 change from $10).

Due to time constraints, I had to eat my burrito in the car on the way to the airport. @Dinehard was a bit unhappy about this, being a big fan of not sitting in a confined space next to someone eating a big stinky burrito. So, apologies to @dinehard.

I was a bit nervous – what if it was rubbish? The single branch of Chipotle which graces the UK is really rubbish. Maybe the glamour of New York had blinded me to the averageness of Chipotle’s offerings? Maybe it was all for NOTHING. But no, I was right all along. Of course I was. 

It was amazeballs with awesomesauce, where amazeballs are actually lots of very nice chicken and tasty rice and awesomesauce is juicy beans, pitch-perfect hot sauce and a portion the size of a manatee’s wang.

Proof, were it needed, that I AM ALWAYS RIGHT.

In fact, in the UK, only Daddy Donkey and Chilango have come anywhere close to being as nice. Although interestingly* this** comprehensive US burrito blog only gives Chipotle a 4.1 rating. Which means that in the land of the free and the home of the burrito, what I’d consider an exceptional burrito is, over there, merely below average. In which case, imagine what a 10/10 burrito would taste like. IMAGINE. Mmm. I am imagining.

Mood before: Smaller than a manatee.

Mood after: Bigger, but still smaller than a manatee.

Ratings: Food: 9/10, Ambience: 6/10, Staff: 7/10, Value: 10/10

Where: AMERICA, BABY!

Recommended?: Yes. I insist you fly there immediately.

*If you don’t find this interesting, what on earth are you doing here?

** This blog also was the way I discovered burritos are up to 1,300 calories each. Goodbye skinny jeans, hello moo-moo! *chubbysadface*

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