Archive for October, 2011

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.