Review: Chiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill

Yesterday evening, despite numerous warnings from my colleagues that the food was “just average” and that it was “really overpriced”, I tried Chiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill for the first time. It was a friend’s 20th birthday and me and some friends thought we’d try somewhere new and different, and as Chiquito had recently opened its new restaurant in Stanway, Colchester (Essex), we thought we’d give it a go. But, to put it quite bluntly, it was a disaster of an evening, and I’m going to tell you why.

Chiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill Logo

Picture this…

You’ve just finished work and have ran through various London train stations before jumping on a train to Colchester from London Liverpool Street with just minutes to spare. You’re knackered and, as usual, the train is running late. You’re already annoyed. You get off the train at the other end and it’s freezing cold, but thankfully your friend is there to pick you up and take you to the restaurant where you’re celebrating your friend’s 20th birthday with what you hope will be a delicious meal and a good time. You finally get to the restaurant, quite hungry and ready to sit down and enjoy the evening, but it all goes wrong pretty quickly.

Despite your friend booking a table for eight a few days before, you arrive to find that Chicquito hasn’t registered your booking and they need to try and rustle up a table for you. They get on it but leave you waiting 20 minutes before asking you to take a seat, despite your table being sat empty for the duration of that wait, and then you finally sit down and find your table is made up of one circular table and one square table that the restaurant staff have thrown together, and you’re all sat at slightly awkward angles. It’s not the group vibe you were hoping for and you envy the large, empty, perfectly rectangular table that sits empty over the other side of the restaurant.

Your waiter finally returns to your table after 15 minutes and takes you drinks order. He says he’ll be back in just 5 minutes with your order, but then takes almost 20 minutes to return. You’ve had your eye on your drinks, which have been sat at the bar for at least 10 minutes, but your waiter is too busy joking around with another table over the other side of the restaurant that arrived shortly after you.

Your drinks finally arrive and the waiter leaves again, promising he’ll return in 5 minutes to take your food order. He returns 20 minutes later and finally takes note of your starters and mains, joking and laughing while he does so – even though you’re already getting irritable. It’s been a long day. Almost 30 minutes later your starters arrive. They’re quite pleasant tasting, but you begin to question why you’ve paid £5 for garlic bread that tastes the same as any other restaurant’s £2.50 side.

Your dirty plates are finally cleared 20 minutes after you’ve finished your starter and you’re promised that your main meal will be with you shortly. Your friend complains to a waitress walking by after 30 minutes, asking where the main meals are, and she responds with, “You’re still waiting?! Let me check! You’ve been waiting a while!” – we didn’t disagree. She returns promptly to tell you that she’s not quite sure what’s happening and that she thinks your waiter is just being “quite slow”. Very helpful.

20 minutes later (50 minutes in total), your main meal arrives. Two of the orders (luckily your friend’s, not yours) are wrong. They take them away, alter them slightly (e.g. replacing a veggie burger with a beef burger) and bring them back. Everyone has what they ordered at last. Hoorah!

Unluckily for Chiquito, you’re really not in the mood to eat your meal after waiting almost an hour and (to be really honest) you realise that your £14 chicken wrap doesn’t actually taste that much different to the £4.99 option at the pub in town. You begin to question why everyone was so buzzed about Chiquito anyway…

The night has been long and you and your friends are really, really disappointed. It was nice to see everyone but it just wasn’t worth it. Your friend’s boyfriend decides to have a word with the manager to see what can be done, because you’re totally dissatisfied with the entire evening – everything from the service to the waiter and the food was a total disaster. Plus, when you complained to the waiter about how long the food took, his response was to chuckle and say, “You’ll live!”. You want to punch him and begin to wonder why you didn’t just go home to bed straight after work.

Kindly, after agreeing that the service was completely unacceptable, the manager swiftly gives you 50% off your total bill and takes all drinks off the bill, too. Great discount and swiftly done (unlike the rest of the evening), but you realise just how much mark-up this restaurant is making (if they’re happy to give 50% off with no arguments) and you’re now even more annoyed.

It’s 10:20pm and you finally leave and manage to get a lift home from your mother, who luckily lives just 10 minutes down the road (saving you a 30 minute train journey). You’re back home by 10:50pm and decide to go straight to sleep and let the nightmare of Chiquito pass you by.

To summarise…

Pros

  • The food’s edible
  • They’re swift at giving out discounts when the service has been terrible

Cons

  • For the quality of the food, it’s very overpriced
  • The service is totally unacceptable and staff need a serious training session
  • It makes you wish you had just ordered a takeaway pizza
  • It leaves you wondering why you’re not always as insanely happy as your waiter. What’s wrong with your life?

If you’re thinking about trying Chiquito, I would strongly recommend ensuring that it’s a restaurant that’s been there a long time and has trained staff and good recommendations from people you know. If it’s just opened, give it a couple of months. Also, make sure you try and get a hefty discount code from somewhere, because the food costs way more than it should.

If you’ve been to Chiquito, please do leave a comment and let me know what your experience was like. For those of you who still need to try it… Good luck!

5 Must-have Tartan Skirts

Walking through London yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that tartan skirts seem to have made a bit of a comeback for Autumn/Winter 2014. I must have seen about five girls wearing tartan skirts in the space of 30 seconds!

I’m a big fan of tartan skirts – I think they’re a classic – so I was really happy to see them about again. On that note, I’ve put together a list of five must-have tartan skirts you’ll love. Here they are:

Circle Skirt In Red Tartan Print from ASOS (£28.00)

ASOS Circle Skirt In Red Tartan Print

The length of this tartan print circle skirt from ASOS is what attracted me to it. This particular skirt is a great option for both work and play. Tuck in a white shirt for work or tuck in a graphic t-shirt for coffee with the girls. Either way, you’ll look fantastic in this vibrant piece.

Rocket Tartan Mini Skirt from Vivienne Westwood (£126.00)

Rocket Tartan Mini Skirt from Vivienne Westwood

I have to admit, I’m not as crazy as most about the work of Vivienne Westwood, however this tartan mini skirt is a beautiful piece. The colours are rich but not too bold and the cut is edgy. I’m 99% sure this will look fantastic with whatever you pair it with. That being said, it is a pricier option when there are so many much cheaper styles on the market.

Tartan Check Mini Skirt with Wool from M&S (£35.00)

Blue Tartan Check Mini Skirt with Wool from M&S

I’ve never paid much attention to M&S, partly because both my Nan and Mum buy their clothes there, however this blue wool tartan skirt is one of my favourites. Pair this with a blouse and blazer, throw on some black heels, and you’ve got yourself the perfect trendy office look.

Tartan Tube Skirt from Oasis (£25.00)

Black and White Tartan Tube Skirt from Oasis

This is probably my least favourite on the list, however I still like it because I think Oasis has a nice selection of clothing and is a little underrated. The main aspect of this skirt I like is the versatility of it and how it’s suitable for both casual and smart. Tuck in a t-shirt or scoop neck top for a little casual edge, or throw on a blazer and blouse for a job interview or meeting.

Plaid Circle Skirt from American Apparel (£48.00)

Black and Yellow Tartan A-line Circle Skirt from American Apparel

Skater skirts are brilliant for nights out. Throw this American Apparel skirt on with a cropped top or sweatshirt (as photographed) and you’ve got yourself a relatively effortless and affordable look that’s cute and even a little sexy. Perfect!

Opt for tartan this season and just have fun with it!

5 Lies Most PR Agencies Tell

Working in PR has allowed me to liaise with others who work at companies other than my own, which has given me an honest insight into how the industry works, particularly in fashion. PR is an industry that’s not always honest. Many PR companies constantly lie to the brands they work with or want to work with and the media they’re building relationships with, and I thought it would be insightful for me to share some of my findings with you. If you’re a brand seeking a PR agency to work with or if you’re someone who’s looking to have a career in PR, this is definitely for you.

Here’s just some of the lies most PR agencies will tell:

“We spend any time we have liaising with the media and our contacts to ensure the best results for our clients…”

This is a statement I read recently in an email from another PR agency, and I would like to confirm to you all that this, in most cases, is simply not true. Yes, those who work in PR, including me, do spend an awful lot of time liaising with the press in order to achieve the best results, however it should be know that we also spend a lot of time eating out at nice restaurants with friends, attending nice parties and events where we drink and have fun with our +1’s (usually not in the media), and chatting over coffee to stylists about lots of irrelevant things. 10 minutes of chat about “work” and 50 minutes about crap is usually the way it goes.

It’s not all about business and I don’t mind admitting that. PR is a job with countless perks and that should be clear. It shouldn’t be shameful to want to enjoy what you do!

“Securing press takes a lot of time…”

Again, in most cases, this is untrue. If a PR agency or someone who works in PR has the right contacts, which they should if you’re paying them (sometimes quite a lot of money) for a service, press features are very quick and easy to secure. In most cases, all it takes is an hour or two (if that) to push a press release out, send some emails and arrange some coffee dates, and you’ve got coverage for a client for the entire month. Not to mention, if you work in fashion PR half the work is done for you just by the simple fact that stylists and editors often email or phone you to directly request samples or images from a client. It’s really not that difficult!

“You won’t find what we offer anywhere else…”

Lies. There are lots of PR agencies who offer the exact same services and do these services just as well as others – it’s just a matter of finding them! PR has a lot to do with how well you get on with the client (and how well the client gets on with the agency) and that is often why a client will choose to stay or leave. You’re not offering a unique, special service – you’re doing what a lot of others are doing, too. It’s definitely not news that a large number of those who work in PR have the same contacts. There’s no doubt that it’s the personality or image of the agency that often determines why a brand will work with that agency.

“We don’t earn as much as we should…”

I charge the majority of my clients between £150 and £250 each month and, for that, they get a service they’re usually happy with and a nice amount of coverage – sometimes what I would consider too much for what they’re paying (in comparison to other companies) – and everyone’s happy. Even with my small team, I average £30 an hour. It’s not a bad amount of money for the time you put in. However, the vast majority of PR agencies charge between £350 and £700, if not more, for coverage that really isn’t that much different or more effective to what companies who charge much less are able to secure. People are just greedy. Fact.

That being said, this does change when you start paying an agency thousands instead of hundreds (these agencies are usually the top dogs in the industry and have a lot of pull with the media), but how many new brands can afford to splash out like that?

“We know what’s best for your brand…”

In some cases, this can be true, however it’s the brand who knows their demographic and targets, and it’s the brand who knows how they want to be portrayed. The job of the PR agency is not to change the brand based on what they think – it’s to take the voice of the brand and devise a plan that works well to achieve those brand targets, including relevant media coverage. Of course you can advise a brand on the quality of their products or their price points, but the brand has the final decision on these aspects. Fact.

Hopefully I’ve given you some insight into what it’s like to work in PR (if you’re looking to do so) or work with a PR agency (if you’re a brand owner). Honesty is the best policy, but in fashion in particular it doesn’t always work like that. But that’s not news, is it?

5 Practical Winter Jackets for Men

When it comes to purchasing your winter jacket or coat, it’s not just style you have to think about. Practicalities such as how waterproof (to keep you dry) and how breathable (to help the release of moisture) the jacket is are also important factors.

Believe it or not, there are countless brands who sell “winter” coats that are not even waterproof for well over £100 and we (the consumers) purchase them just because they look great on. On that note, it’s helpful to point out that no matter how good that winter coat looks, you’re still going to be soaked, sweaty and ill if it doesn’t have practical features, which is why I’ve put together a list of 5 practical winter coats for men from brands you can rely on to help you choose your winter coat this year. Here they are:

Canyon Men’s Long Waterproof Jacket from Mountain Warehouse (£59.99)

Canyon Men's Khaki Long Waterproof Jacket from Mountain Warehouse

Completely watertight and available in both black and khaki, this waterproof jacket is sure to keep you dry and warm throughout the winter months, this year and next. This jacket is insulated for extra warmth and has two large pockets to keep your bits and pieces in. Better yet, it has a detachable hood for when it’s not raining but chilly, and the cut is very flattering for a trendy appeal.

Dubliner Jacket from Helly Hansen (£100.00)

Men's Black Waterproof Dubliner Jacket from Helly Hansen

Waterproof, windproof (adjustable cuffs to stop wind going up your sleeves) and breathable with a quick dry lining (just in case you sweat) and a packable hood, this men’s black waterproof Helly Hansen jacket (also available in red, grey and olive green) is ideal for wet weather. It’s a little more lightweight than the Mountain Warehouse jacket (above) but probably not as warm. Helly Hansen is known for its great quality outdoor gear, so this could be a great, reasonably priced option to tide you over this winter.

Kiwi Jacket from Craghoppers (£90.00)

Men's Kiwi Jacket from Craghoppers

I may be a little biased on this one as it’s actually my choice of winter coat this year (I purchased it at the beginning of this month). 100% waterproof and with a brushed inner collar to keep you comfortable, this waterproof jacket from Craghoppers is a great commuter jacket. It’s warm but not too padded (so you don’t overheat on the train) and keeps you totally dry when it rains, in both heavy rain and light showers. It also has AquaDry technology, which means it stays drier for longer.

Men’s Stormcloud Waterproof Jacket from Berghaus (£75.00)

Men's Stormcloud Waterproof Jacket from Berghaus

Berghaus can be quite expensive, however the Stormcloud Waterproof Jacket is a slightly more affordable option in comparison to their usual styles, which is part of the reason as to why it made the list. This jacket is completely waterproof and features an adjustable hood for practicality. It comes in black, indigo, carbon and green colour options and is fairly lightweight, making it another great option for commuters.

Arboles Men’s Faux Fur & Waterproof Parka Jacket from Trespass (£34.99)

Arboles Men's Faux Fur & Waterproof Parka Jacket from Trespass

If you don’t want to spend much on your winter jacket but want something practical that will keep you warm and dry, this waterproof parka jacket from Trespass is a great option. Padded with an adjustable zip and a removable faux fur hood, this is a great casual jacket for those weekends spent outdoors with friends. Better yet, it has 7 pockets and elasticated cuffs for ultimate practicality and versatility.

Be sure to stop getting ripped off by brands offering “winter” jackets that will leave you soaked in heavy downpours this season and opt for a jacket with waterproof and breathable technologies from an outdoor clothing specialist. You’ll thank me for it!

Images courtesy of Mountain Warehouse, Helly Hansen, Craghoppers, Berghaus & Trespass

For Women: Jil Sander Simple Sandals

Just as I mentioned that simple sandals for summer are key for guys, they are just as important for you girls, too. Easy to wear on the beach, to work or just out with friends, these Jil Sander sandals are just about as simple as they get, but they’re perfect.

Simple sandals like these are easy to pair with anything, so make sure you grab yourself a pair this summer.

jil sander simple sandals

Simple Sandals by Jil Sander, £464.69. farfetch.com

Images courtesy of Farfetch

Love This: Warehouse ’80s Floral Midi Dress

I’m a huge advocate of midi dresses – perhaps because of their elegance in comparison to shorter dresses. A printed midi dress is a wardrobe staple for summer, and this one from Warehouse is a particular favourite of mine. Styled on its own with some black heels, or even some matching statement heels if you’re feeling daring, provides an effortless look for both day and night.

Give it a go!

Warehouse '80s Floral Midi Dress

’80s Floral Midi Dress by Warehouse, £42.00. asos.com

Images courtesy of ASOS

Review: Holster Sandals

I had a close look at a pair of Holster sandals recently and I love them. Plus, Fearne Cotton wears them and I really admire Fearne, so that could be part of it. Regardless, these sandals are vegan friendly and recyclable, getting the green thumbs up. At just £44, they’re affordable and, from what I can see, well worth the money. Plus, I love the stud detailing on the strap and the range of colours. That being said, I do have to be a bit dull and say that the black sandals are definitely my favourite!

Which pair would you buy?

Black Holster Sandals

You can purchase these sandals through the Holster e-shop.

Images courtesy of Holster