Food Quest: Chiquito, Broughton Park

chiquitoChiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill, Broughton Park

Regular readers will already know how much I love Mexican food.  It’s fair to say that I’m pretty obsessed with grub from south of the border, be it tacos, enchiladas, burritos or whatever.  Just wrap it up in a tortilla and I’m one happy hombre.

Of course, I have been to a Chiquito restaurant before, there’s one at ChOaks (that’s Cheshire Oaks, amigo).  However I was anxious to try the newer establishment at nearby Broughton Park, if only because – well, it’s nearer.

I got my chance on a lunch time visit with work colleagues.  I saddled up my pony and rode over the border home into Wales for some refreshment at the Chiquito cantina.  Even though the website says Broughton Park is in Chester (England), which it’s not.  Minus points for racism, Chiquito. nachos

As we only had an hour before the banditos would be back on our trail, starters were skipped.  Which is a shame, as there were plenty of tantalising items on offer.  Likewise, I didn’t opt for an alcoholic beverage with my meal, though I could have chosen from an array of suitable beers.

Instead I had a coke, but the good news was that there were free refills!  Just ask your courteous waiting on staff.  I like that.

So on to the meal.  After some deliberation, I opted for a chimichanga – a dish I love and have enjoyed before at other establishments.  Now for those of you who are unschooled in the ways of Mexican food, a chimihcanga is essentially a fried burrito.  Still none the wiser?  Take a tortilla, add the filling of your choice (in my case pulled pork) and throw in some rice, refried beans and sauce.  Roll it up and cook/fry.

el-taco-grande

El Taco Grande enjoying his meal

The chimichanga was accompanied by fries and the usual suspects – salsa, sour cream and guacamole dips.

This was all very tasty, and I really enjoyed the food.  It had a home cooked feel to it, not mass produced and thrown together at all.

The only thing that confused me was the serving style – the food was presented in a little deep frying metal container.  This looked very cool, but wasn’t the easiest way to eat.  Unless you’re supposed to pick the chimichanga up and eat with your hands – surely not?  I must be wrong.

All in all, my experience was very good – with a couple of minor criticisms.  Firstly, although the style and decor of Chiquito was really groovy, the music was a bit hit and miss.  It seemed like every other song was Enrique Iglesias, mixed alternately with some more authentic Latin sounds.  Enrique may be OK for the ladies who lunch crowd, but I expect more genuine Mariachi music.

My delicious chimichanga. Half eaten, sorry.

My delicious chimichanga. Half eaten, sorry.

But then Chiquito is Tex Mex, rather than just Mex.  They even have a steak and fish menu, as well as burgers.  This may be far too normal for my tastes, but I suppose that it may entice some Brits in – they may even, one day, try something a little more exotic than chips and egg.

I have no real problems with Chiquito – the food and service were both great.  I really enjoyed my meal and was impressed by the large amount of choice on the menu.  Go give Chiquito a try – but please, try the Mexican food!

Food Quest Test

  • Food: large amount to choose from.  Great Mexican dishes, with some more traditional choices for anyone with a less adventurous palate.
  • Drink: I was on soft drinks, but they have free refills – yes!  Tons of alcoholic choices too.
  • Service: Very good, friendly staff.
  • Cost: Acceptable for a lunch time treat!

Chiquito, Unit 19 Broughton Chopping Park, Broughton CH4 0DE

01244 530564

The Chiquito website is here.

Kash Taprooms

k1

A friend introduced me to Kash bar in Chester a while ago, as friends do.  Since then it’s become a favourite haunt.  The beer is exceptional and although I’m not in Chester that often, I often pop in before a gig in The Live Rooms.  I’ve introduced a few others to the wonders of this place too, as a way to “pay it forward”.

On previous visits to Kash, I’d been distracted by the food, which looked excellent.  Eventually I couldn’t resist any longer, so Mrs Platinum Al and I went on a mission to Chester to enjoy the full eating experience at this venue.

Kash is on Brook Street, so not in the main town centre.  It’s not too far out of the way though and well worth the effort.  On entering, the visitor finds an elaborately decorated venue with a chilled vibe and some cool tunes.  Not to mention, of course, the myriad beverages available, many of which are brewed on site.

To kick things off, I went for a pint of Gold Digger, from the home Blueball brewery.  It’s a very tasty golden pale ale, not too strong but full of flavour.  My companion went for the ever reliable Brooklyn Lager, one of our favourites.

The food arrived without much of a wait, starting with some tortilla chips and dip to share.  Excellent choice – simple but effective.  The dip itself was a really good, tangy sauce.  We had a couple more beers – I went for a Brooklyn lager too, this time.  It’s getting easier to find bottles of Brooklyn these days, but it’s great to have on draught.

We both opted for burgers for the main event, although the choice was difficult.  So much to sample…  Mrs Platinum Al opted for The Pioneer, which was a burger on a bun with Swiss cheese, caramelised onions, mushrooms, bacon and garlic mayo.  It looked damn fine, but mushrooms are my green kryptonite so I didn’t venture a try. IMG_20151114_193250466

No matter – my own burger was awesome enough for me.  I chose The Bomb, a burger topped with bacon, cheese and Kash’s Blueball ale chilli.  The chilli was rich and full of flavour, I loved every mouthful.  Both burgers were served with chips that were like wedges shaved into fries.  I’m no fan of the big chubby chips, so these fries were perfect.

All in all, the food was fantastic.  Great quality comfort food with loads of flavour, prepared with obvious pride and care.  There’s so much to choose from that Kash demands another visit (next time it’s Mexican for me!).

Plus you’ve got a massive choice of excellent beers on offer – so much that there’s surely something for everyone.  With a warm welcome, attentive staff and relaxed atmosphere, Kash is now the premier bar in Chester.  Think you can beat this?  Good luck.

Kash Taprooms Bar & Grill, 121 Brook Street, Chester

01244 401777

Kash is also on Facebook and Twitter: @Kash_Chester

Food Quest: Hickory’s Chester

Hickory’s Smokehouse, Chester

Is everyone back eating normal food again, after the January diets?  Good, then it’s about time for another Food Quest.

Hickory’s Smokehouse offers authentic USA style barbecue food, and plenty of it.  This is real Man vs Food style cooking, with plenty of smoked ribs, pulled pork and burgers to fill up even the heartiest of appetites.

The Chester premises are located right by the River Dee, in an idyllic location just a short walk from the main centre.  It’s a vibrant scene, especially lit up at night.  Inside is a welcoming venue with walls decorated with appropriate items (guitars, American football paraphernalia, you name it). hickorys

There’s a large drinks menu, but I like to opt for a big old pint of Brooklyn lager, a particular favourite of mine.  Although you can pick this up in bottled form from supermarkets now, an actual draft pint isn’t easy to come by.  Mrs Platinum Al opted for a Jack and Coke, and we enjoyed some complimentary popcorn while we ordered.

On previous visits we have tried some starters, including a freshly baked giant pretzel served with hummus that was delicious.  There’s plenty of choice, but on this occasion we abandoned the appetisers as we had something major in mind for the main course.

We decided to order the Smokehouse Platter, a massive combination of signature dishes for us both to share.  Good job we were hungry.  The platter consists of:

  • Memphis style baby back ribs, hot links, jumbo beef rib, Kansas style ribs, beef brisket, BBQ pulled pork, fries and slaw

It was a massive amount of very tasty food, but we gave it our best shot.  The ribs were amazing and I couldn’t pick a favourite between the varieties on offer.  In particular I enjoyed the BBQ pulled pork – the meat was super tender and served with beans, a top notch dish if ever there was one.  The hot links were also popular, I’ve never had them before – they’re basically small sausages and they are so, so good…

Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite finish all the food – but what we had was delightful!

Mrs Platinum Al and myself have made a few trips to Hickory’s, and I’m sure we’ll go again.  With first rate food, great beer and even quality tunes (plenty of proper Blues – I remember hearing Howlin’ Wolf – one of my faves) – you can’t go wrong.

Highly recommended!

Food Quest Test

  • Food: A huge choice of exciting food to try; I’ve tried plenty and it’s all great!
  • Drink: Again a huge choice and with Brooklyn Lager on tap you can’t go wrong
  • Service: Excellent (shout out to our waitress – Sena?)
  • Environment: Cool USA inspired decor that’s like being on a TV set; brilliant music!
  • Cost: Good value for large portions

Hickory’s Smokehouse, The Groves, Souters Lane, Chester CH1 1SH

01244 404000

The Hickory’s website is here.

The Hickory’s Facebook page is here.

Food Quest: The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak, Kinnerton

It was a family affair at the Royal Oak in Kinnerton, so off Mrs Platinum Al and I went to sample the culinary delights.  My Dad’s birthday was the occasion, and there were a few of us out for a pleasant time and good food.

The Royal Oak itself is a quaint, very attractive traditional pub – plenty of wooden fixtures and a damn fine array of ales.  Lager, too – for the yobs like me.  It’s a welcoming atmosphere, and an ideal venue for a cosy winter pint.

For our food, we were seated in the nearby dining area.  Again, spacious and also bright.

Mrs Platinum Al ordered Chinese belly pork with noodles for her starter.  This was delicious (I’m quoting here), and although rich, could have made an excellent main course.

My starter was a chorizo, black pudding and tomato salad, though I asked for the mushroom dressing to be removed.  This was replaced by a perfectly adequate non-mushroom based dressing.  I hate mushrooms.  The starter was excellent, very tasty.  It wasn’t a massive portion, it was just right – which is surely a good thing when there’s plenty more food to come.

Our mains were a burger with cheese and bacon for Mrs PA, which was served with chips and lots of salad.  This too was extremely good, and a lot to eat!

I opted for a chicken, gammon and leak pie.  This was a great choice, the pie not only filled the entire plate but was really good.  It tasted excellent; the chicken was in large chunks, and the sauce full of flavour.  The pastry was well made and there was plenty of it – I wasn’t left with a plate of pie contents with no roof.  The pie was served with large chips – these were OK, though to be honest I’m a skinny fries guy.  Also there was a huge dish of peas to accompany the pie – I found this a little strange having another totally separate plate.

All in all however, the meal was excellent.  Regular readers will know that generally I prefer more exotic dishes than traditional British fare, however I found the meal to be delightful.  It would be nice to see a wider variety of different food on the menu (and less mushrooms), but in all honesty, that wouldn’t be in keeping with the manner of the Royal Oak.  Traditional food here is far from familiar and boring, it is both plentiful and full of flavour.

One final commendation for the Royal Oak must go to the staff: they were all very friendly, patient and helpful.  An exceptional job.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: solid traditional meals that are well prepared and tasty, good portions
  • Drink: good variety of real ale and lagers to cover all tastes
  • Service: Exceptional
  • Environment: traditional country pub atmosphere, the real deal
  • Cost: not cheap but worth it

The Royal Oak, Main Road, Kinnerton Lane, Higher Kinnerton CH4 9BE

01244 660871

I can’t find any web page or social media for the Royal Oak.  If you go, please tell them to get online!

Food Quest: The Palomino

The Palomino, Connah’s Quay

Welcome to the frontier, the Wild West of Connah’s Quay.  No, the Quay isn’t that wild – but there’s a taste of the Big Country at The Palomino.

Once it was the Wepre Inn, now it’s reborn as The Palomino.  A Western themed bar and restaurant that’s decked out in all manner of cowboy paraphernalia.  There are life size statues of cowboys and Indians (including a full size John Wayne on a horse); dreamcatchers and pictures on the wall; plus numerous models of Native Americans and what not all over the place.

I think it’s very cool.  The very first time I went there, they even had Clint Eastwood classic Hang ‘Em High showing on several television screens around the room.

There’s an extensive menu that covers a wide range of steaks, burgers and hearty meals to fill up any gunslinger.  There are of course salads and vegetarian options for the weirdos.  Plenty of drink choices too, though sadly no Sam Adams or Brooklyn lager – they would’ve been more suitable.  I tried Kozel, a Czech beer, which was very nice (though sadly not cold enough!).

On our most recent visit, Mrs Platinum Al opted for the Chicken Espetada.  Never heard of this before; it’s pretty impressive.  Two large chicken and veg kebabs hang vertically down from a metal support over the plate.  Served with chips and salad, It looked great and the smell was enticing.  Luckily I got to try some.  I loved it, one to try next time.

For my own choice, I went for the full rack of ribs.  A massive plate was served to me, with chips, salad, coleslaw and corn on the cob.  The ribs were extremely tender and fell apart nicely, delicious sauce too.  Despite the vast amount of food, I made a valiant attempt and finished nearly everything – leaving just the corn half eaten…

Speaking for myself, I really enjoy going to the Palomino.  The food has always been good, with large portions and a good choice on offer.

Of course, what makes The Palomino unique is the decor.  You can see from the photos here what the place is like.  Unfortunately, I hear that the place is having a make over soon – so there’ll be no more Western memorabilia.  This makes me very sad.  Like a cowboy who’s had to shoot his lame horse.

I’m sure the food will continue to be great.  It’s just a shame that such a fun, different venue won’t be the same.  If you want to experience The Palomino as it is, better saddle up soon.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: a wide range of American style food, plus trad favourites, and large portions.  How about a Man vs Food style burger challenge?!
  • Drink: good range of beers, American beer like Samuel Adams and Brooklyn Lager would be great though.
  • Service: good, not perfect, but cheerful.
  • Cost: good value for large portions.

The Palomino Bar & Restaurant, Wepre Lane, Connah’s Quay CH5 4JR

01244 811122

The Palomino website is here.

The Palomino Facebook page is here.

Buffalo Wings and Beer

Buffalo Wings & Beer, Cloverly MD

Continuing the American theme from my last post, this time I’d like to tell you about a very special place.  It’s my favourite bar – possibly of all time.  Though it’s been a long time since I last paid a visit, I have some very happy memories.

Back in 2000, I went on “vacation” to Maryland, USA – and again the following year.  Some relatives of mine were living in the area, and I was lucky enough to be invited over to visit.  So my family and I made the trip from Wales to America.  We had a fantastic time catching up with our family and being amazed by the country itself.  An unforgettable part of the trip was when we were introduced to the BWB.

BWB stands for Buffalo Wings and Beer – which is, quite simply, what the establishment offers.  It’s a bar, and a local of sorts to my relatives, and we were to visit there quite a few times!

IMG_3114

Recreating BWB at home recently with wings and Sam Adams beer. Note BWB shirt and cap!

Quite different to the pubs we’re used to at home, the BWB is a sports bar also offering food.  So unlike our boozers back home, you can have a few (or several) beers and you don’t need to leave to get food.  When you get hungry, you can order food right there!  Now we have restaurant pubs in the UK, but at the BWB you can order food at later times not just during the restaurant opening hours.  No need to run off to the kebab shop here.

Great food too – I became a big fan of the chicken wings in particular.  But not too hot!  This was also where I grew to love Samuel Adams Boston lager too.  Not to mention the buckets of beer – literally of bucket with ice and several bottles of booze!  Fine ale and good food – it couldn’t get better.

Except it could.  BWB also housed the coolest jukebox ever, pool tables, pinball, dart boards, arcade games – awesome stuff.  As a sports bar, the TV Screens showed sports, but as this was the US the entertainment was not what I was used to.  I even saw a vert skateboarding competition being shown there once.

It must be said that the people in the BWB were great also – welcoming, polite, fun – both customers and staff.  They were pleasant and genuinely interested in us as visitors to the country.

If you’re ever in the area, make sure you visit.  There are a few BWBs in the chain, the one I visited was in Cloverly.  Awesome place.  I hope I get to go back there someday.

With thanks to Lesley, Simon and Ben Stagg, who introduced us to the world of BWB!

Buffalo Wings & Beer Cloverly, 15412 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905

The BWB website is here.

The BWB Facebook page is here.

Questions #6: The Ultimate Burger

We’ve just installed a new burger grill at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Here’s the deal: you get one super supreme grilled burger, inside a quality bun.  You can have four toppings of your choice on your burger – anything you like, but only FOUR.

Now we’ve got lots of toppings to choose from.  The obvious to the obscure.  What would you choose?

The only freebie you get is sauce – whatever sauce you want, it’s not one of the four toppings.

Q: Which four toppings would you like on your Ultimate Burger?

Jon

  1. Smoked bacon
  2. Goats cheese
  3. Jalapenos
  4. Chorizo

Terry

  1. Extra burger (!)
  2. Lettuce (!!)
  3. Onions
  4. Tomatoes

Jamie

  1. Chorizo
  2. Cheese
  3. Bacon
  4. Onion rings

Sian

  1. Cheese
  2. Onions

Matthew

  1. Extra burger
  2. Bacon
  3. Cheese
  4. Gherkin

Sam

  1. Bacon
  2. Cheese
  3. Chicken nuggets
  4. Chicken noodles

Nathan

  1. Chilli con carne
  2. Cheese
  3. Onions
  4. Chorizo

Iaian

  1. Cheese
  2. Chorizo
  3. Chicken breast
  4. Jalapenos

Me

  1. Cheese
  2. Chilli con carne
  3. Tortilla chips
  4. Chorizo

There you go – just a few ideas for you.

The burger grill is on.  When you’ve had a couple of virtual drinks and a soak in the virtual hot tub, slink on out and head over for a virtual burger.  Your Ultimate Burger, your way.

Let me know what four toppings you would choose – leave a comment below.

* All burgers, drinks and hot tub are purely virtual…