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.
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? )
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.
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.