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Chilis Grill and Bar

March 12, 2014

I love watching those food shows that are constantly being aired on television. Each series gives the viewer a general idea of different cuisines across the world. I have learned so much about American, English, Italian, Mid Eastern or even Indian food through my almost obsessive viewing. It was through these shows that I became fascinated with Mexican food. The freshness of the ingredients, the spicy and sour flavours have always caught my fancy.

However, I have found very few blogs that give simple and easy recipes for beginners in Mexican cooking. Add to this the fact that I haven’t really eaten Mexican food, and I had reached a dead-end. Alas, Mumbai, too, has a serious dearth of Mexican restaurants. One of the most popular ones that I visited on my birthday last year was quite disastrous, with no serious VFM.

So, when the people from Chilis Grill and Bar invited me over for a review, I jumped at the opportunity. Chilis (a Texas-based restaurant) came to India in 2009 (it has more than 1,500 restaurants in more than 31 countries across the globe!) and opened its first outlet at Bangalore. Serving mainly Southwestern American and Mexican food, it has since then enjoyed popularity amongst the crowds in Pune and Mumbai.

Having given the Chilis outlet in Powai nothing more than a glance every time I drove past it on Central Avenue, I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the restaurant last week. One of the first things I noticed was the crowd on a weekday. Almost all the tables were occupied and thankfully there was no loud music (5 points for that alone!). The interiors are subtly done up and reminiscent of the all-American diners that one sees in the movies. Each table is spaced out well enough to allow the diners privacy and lamps hanging above add a cheerful touch. A bar bang in the middle of the restaurant doles out some really nice drinks (atleast mocktails :))

Tropical Sunrise
Wild Raspberry Slush
When my friend R and I entered the restaurant, we were shown our seats by the lady at the entrance. After taking a look at the menu, we finalised around four items (which I felt were enough to give us an idea of the kind of food served). We had requested the staff to give us smaller portions than usual so that we could taste everything. Now, Chilis is known for its meat items. So, a burger and fajitas are a must have here. I, however, was instantly distracted by the salad. So, we ordered small portions of the following items.
  • Quesadilla Explosion Chicken Salad
  • Tripple Dipper (Wings Over Buffalo, Crispy Chicken Honey-Chipotle Crispers and Texas Cheese Poppers, served with Honey Mustard, Ranch Dressing and Spicy Sauce).
  • Bacon Quesadillas (took bacon on the side for R)
  • Grilled Chicken Sliders (it is usually only available as Big Mouths but we asked for a special order of sliders, since our big mouths could take only so much)
  • Baby Back Ribs (just one rib for R to taste)

R has been to the US and back and has had a variety of Mexican and South-Western American food. So, she was the perfect foodie partner in this review. The Quesadilla Explosion Chicken Salad comes with crispy lettuce, tender grilled chicken (vegetarians can choose grilled paneer), corn relish, mixed cheese, cilantro, diced tomato and crispy strips of tortilla. It is garnished with a smoky ranch drizzle and cheesy quesadilla wedges. The salad was indeed an explosion. The textures and flavours were spot on. The tenderness of the flavourful chicken with the fresh lettuce and the soft crumbly cheese along with the smoky ranch drizzle was rather tantalising.

Quesadilla Explosion Chicken Salad
The Tripple Dipper is gluttony on a plate. The chicken wings are one of the best I’ve had so far (in line after the ones I’d had at Imbiss, Bandra). The spicy, smoky tabasco sauce and the sticky texture were spot on, as was the flavour of the cheese poppers and the chicken crispers.

The Bacon Quesadillas (citrus-garlic grilled chicken with mixed cheese) were served with Mexican Rice and Baked Beans with pico de gallo (or salsa) and sour cream on the side. We also asked for some Guacamole. While the cheesy quesadillas were very delicious, the rice was quite disappointing. It was green, flavourless, and dry. But coupled with the black beans (which were not rajma, thank God!) they went down well. The sour cream was more like hung curd whipped into submission, and the guac was chunky, too sour and not creamy as it usually is.

Bacon Quesadillas

The Grilled Chicken Sliders were, on the other hand, delicious without doubt. The melt-in-your-mouth patties are topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cheese and a honey-mustard dressing. The baby back rib, too, was meltingly tender and very flavourful according to R.

Grilled chicken sliders
By the time we were done with all of this (in their half portion sizes, mind you) we were stuffed. But, like R said, a food blogger cannot walk out of a restaurant review without having dessert. So, we went for the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. A mountain of warm chocolate cake with a gooey fudgy filling topped with chocolate sauce and caramel and a dollop of vanilla icecream. Pure heaven! I’ll let the picture speak for itself.
Heaven on a plate
Overall, I loved the ambience and the food at Chilis Grill and Bar. They could up the quality of the sour cream and guac, though. Unpretentious American and Mexican flavours combined with a lovely ambience and a strategic location. This one is surely a place I would want to visit again.

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