Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published March 12th 2014
Burritos Farmed With Integrity
Chipotle, Hill Road, Wimbledon
A trip to the cinema gave me a two-for-one deal at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Wimbledon. Named after a smoked hot chilli pepper, the restaurant is located at the bottom of Hill Road. Although I have walked past many times, this was to be my first time inside.
The food's better than the decor.
At first the metal tables, fast food booths, and plastic cutlery were a bit of a turn off. The colour scheme was dark, industrial, and cold. Did I really want to dine here?
Further down, however, they had a much nicer sheltered garden. Green vines climbed up sandy walls, a glass ceiling let you look up at the night sky, and the wooden benches were much friendlier. Unfortunately the conservatory doors were locked. Back to the metal tables.
Upon reading the menu, I began to feel more comfortable. Chipotle works in a similar way to Sama, an Asian restaurant down the street, that I had tried out not too long ago. This is what I call D.I.Y dining, where you get to customise your own meal out of given ingredients.
Served fresh from the counter.
Choose between a burrito, taco, or salad, then add whatever filling you like; his includes chicken, beef, pork, or veggies. Pick your salsa (mild, medium, hot), and top up with extras, such as rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce. The real bonus here is that you aren't limited to either/or; you can have however much you want and it remains at the same fixed priced.
Burritos are wrapped in foil to keep the hot.
Once my Dad and I decided what we wanted, we went up to the counter to order. Short people like myself might have a bit of a communication problem; the high protective cover blocked my eyeline with the waitress, meaning we were both bobbing up and down like sea buoy trying to talk to one another. None-the-less, the staff were very helpful. I asked for brown rice, pinto beans, and a veggie filling, and they immediately warned me that the pinto beans came in a sauce with bacon bits. I had to reassure her several times that I am not a vegetarian, but I appreciated the concern, because it shows how dedicated they are to looking after their customers.
Three types of tabasco sauce. The green chilli pepper is the best
Customer welfare is not Chiptole's only concern. The company was founded by Steve Ellis, who set up his first restaurant in Colorado in 1993. After visiting a ranch in Iowa, he saw how the animals were being naturally raised, and decided that he no longer wanted to use animals that suffered through intensive farming. Now Chipotle only uses Freedom chicken, Farm Assured beef, and pork from Free Range pigs. Their slogan is 'Food with integrity.'
Not only is it food with integrity, but food with taste. Our big burritos came fully encased in a soft flour tortilla; I am used to seeing them with an open end, so these authentic whoppers were a real feast on the eyes. And the tummy.
From the first bite my taste buds were dancing with excitement. All the creamy fillings made the vegetables and rice extra moist. Dad also had burrito, but with a carnitas filling, which is pork that has been seared, braised, and shredded. Meals only cost between £6.50-£6.95 depending on the main filling, and since I had a voucher, it was an excellent deal - especially since they gave us the more expensive dish free. If you have children, don't be afraid to take them here, as they have specially portioned kids' meals too.
Tortilla Chips with Tomatillo Green Chilli Salsa
Although there are no desserts, you can order a side of tortilla chips with dip. Drinks include lemonade, elderflower pressť, soda, a margarita of Mexican beer (although Dad somehow ended up with an American one). The tortillas had a mild spiciness to them, and my only criticism is how they were presented. They came in a takeaway bag, despite the fact we were eating in; it would have been very helpful if we had a basket to decant them in. We also needed something more substantial that a blunt plastic knife. I understand they are all about being environmentally friendly (everything is made from recycled material), in fact I applaud it, but that needs to be balanced with practicality.
Chipotle may not be the most stylish place to eat - the number of empty tables in relation to the number of customers clearly indicate this is popular mainly as a takeaway - but that is more than made up for by friendly staff, value for money, company ethics, and fabulous food.