That Beer Place

The indoor market in Chester has had a confident resurgence in recent times.  Still the home of many familiar local traders and stalls, the market has now grown to accommodate a whole new and vibrant concept.

A number of excellent eateries have sprung up, offering food of a wide variety of styles.  To compliment this, That Beer Place has also established itself as a central attraction for beer lovers.

I wanted to write a brief appreciation of That Beer Place – and spread the word if possible – for a fantastic enterprise that deserves success.

There’s a huge selection of beer to choose from, both on tap and in bottles or cans.  Whether traditional or unusual, local or from a far flung locale, there’s so much variety that there’s sure to be a drink to suit all tastes.

Staff are helpful and able to advise, if the magnitude of choice threatens to confound.  There are vegan, gluten free and more options; plus cider, gin, wine and non-alcoholic beverages too.  It’s easy and fun to experiment and discover a new favourite.  I’ve been doing it for a while…

Whilst never raucous, there’s definitely a buzz about That Beer Place that makes it a great place to visit.  It’s friendly and welcoming, with a cool vibe that makes it a crucial part of the revamped market.

Good luck to That Beer Place and Chester Market too (not forgetting another favourite,  Death by Tacos!) – make sure you pay them a visit next time you’re in town.

That Beer Place

Unit A19, Chester Market, Chester, Cheshire
01244 941990
Find That Beer Place on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Root Beer

I remember the glory days; back in the late 1980’s, when we used to be able to buy root beer in McDonald’s.  We used to go skateboarding, and always choose root beer to accompany our meal if ever we went to Ronald’s.

But root beer proved too bizarre a taste for the staid British market, and soon enough it was impossible to buy any from Maccies.  Around that time, I embarked on a long personal veto on visiting the burger clown (for several reasons, not just the drinks).

Eventually root beer started cropping up in some super markets, and with the arrival of American sweet shops cans of the stuff were available again.  It was like repealing prohibition, but prices were high. P_20140907_111836

Root beer is essentially a non-alcoholic (despite the name) fizzy drink.  It’s never quite translated well over here, unlike many of it’s soda compatriots.

To be fair, it is something of an acquired taste.  I’ve previously described root beer as tasting similar to Dandelion & Burdock with a whiff of Germolene.  It’s often compared to mouthwash.

Yet I (and many of my friends) have developed a love of the sweet fizzy stuff.  Perhaps it’s the thrill of the rare and exotic.  More likely, it the fact that root beer was featured in US comics, films and TV – so just like Twinkies they became a part of a fascinating pop culture.

And don’t forget that classic British skate punk band The Stupids were known to refer to it (see “Root Beer Death” on the Van Stupid album).

Top of the crop is A&W Root Beer.  I remember trying this for the first time on my trips to the USA some while ago.  I probably tried a few different brands, but this is the only one I recall.  This brew is smooth, not too fizzy and not too sweet.  Unfortunately it’s usually only available at a premium price from specialist sweet shops. root

A cheaper option, also from a US sweet shop, was the Day’s root beer.  This only came in at just under a quid.  However, it’s not quite the quality drink that A&W offer.

Another choice is Carters Refreshing Root Beer.  This can be purchased much more cheaply, in packs of six from your local Asda.  However, this version is cloyingly sweet to the novice, and not as mellow a taste.  Still, for the price and ease of purchase it’s worth checking out.

So there you have it: a synopsis of my love of root beer.  An under appreciated and derided beverage, it beats a cup of tea any day.  ‘Cos I hate tea, me.

Drink of the Week #3

Lemon, Lime & Bitters

This is another cocktail that may be of interest to anyone trying to be good and cut down on the booze at this time of year.  Technically this isn’t an alcohol free drink, as there is alcohol in Angostura bitters.  But you’ll only be using a tiny amount of that ingredient in this drink.

Lemon, Lime & Bitters 

IMG_2569

  • Lemonade
  • Lime cordial
  • Angostura bitters
  • Ice

Take a tall glass and pour in some lime cordial, enough as though you were making just a lime and water drink.  Then add the ice.

Next add the Angostura bitters – just add drop by drop.  Aim for a half to one full teaspoon full of bitters, and play around to see how you like the taste.  The bitters will affect both the taste and colour, so experimentation is key.

Finally, top the glass up with lemonade and stir.

Drink of the Week #2

Shirley Temple

Are you being good after indulging during Christmas?  Have you sworn off alcohol for a while, maybe even the whole of January?  If you have, but you’re after something more than a cup of tea, this one’s for you.

The Shirley Temple is a non-alcoholic cocktail, or mocktail, if you will.  The legend is that it was concocted in a Hollywood hotel for the then child star, and of course is alcohol free.  It’s a great drink to enjoy if you’re staying off the booze – the ritual of mixing a drink makes it seem special.  Plus it’s easy to make.

Shirley Temple IMG_2583

  • Grenadine
  • Sprite or 7Up
  • Ice

Pour a small measure of grenadine syrup into a glass.  Think of it as if you were making a cordial drink: the grenadine is the cordial which you will add to.  Of course you can experiment with the amount of grenadine to achieve the taste you like.  Add ice and pour in the Sprite/7Up.

Don’t forget – you could use diet versions of the Sprite or 7Up if you want a slightly healthier version…

Grenadine is easily available in supermarkets.  It’s not expensive and is a common ingredient in many other cocktails, so useful to have in your cupboard.

Soundtrack: The Aquabats! – “Hi-Five Soup!”