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