• Chipotle Mexican Grill Opens in London

    May 11th, 2010mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    Well, well, well… time for another field report from my home town. An excellent vegan-friendly chain restaurant, chipotle, debuted in London this week, and of course we had an operative there on opening day to cover it. One thing I’ve been accustomed to in years of SoCal Mexican food is that there are high standards here. If I put my Brit hat on for a second, I can understand why dadatamonkey would feel as he does. I would. It’s worse than that… he’s dead, Jim…

    It’s a burrito Jim, but not as we know it.

    Well I popped along to the opening day of the new Chipotle “mexican” restaurant in London on Monday, after hearing, and reading (especially here) how good their food was. So was it good, bad, or just damn ugly? Read on. It’s kinda all three….

    Lookin' good.

    They have obviously put some real effort (and money, explains the prices maybe?) into the décor. Clean, crisp, but functional. I got there about 4pm so the long queues I’d heard about (1/2 hour wait at lunchtime) were pretty much over. Staff were friendly (despite obviously battling against it on the first day), the crowd was mainly American (I’ll forgive you guys, you know no better), and a real mix of suits, agency types and hipsters.

    Seating is functional but comfortable. The little seats by the window might be a challenge for some of you visitors though…

    Menu? What menu? We serve Americans dontcha know. The KISS principal ;-0

    The menu is nice and simple, i.e. there really isn’t one. Guess it helps for the Americans ;). But then I saw the prices (£6.35 for a veg burrito) and thought, “OMFG, this must be top quality at these prices for “fast food”. Well, we all make mistakes, even me!! 😉

    Meat and veg too close for my liking.. but thhere didn’t appear to be any cross-contamination. Yet. They have two spares, why not place them in between?

    I really don’t like it when meat etc is placed so close to all the vegan bits. So easy to get contamination etc, but after watching the first sector of pots, the servers were obviously well tutored to ensure no spillage. I DOUBT THAT WILL LAST THOUGH.

    Watch those hands play with cheese and salad…

    Then I watched the second counter with salsa & gauc etc. Oops. Fuck up. The server was whacking cheese into the non-veg burritos with the same gloves she humped the lettuce in. I asked for fresh lettuce. They obliged. Kinda basic isn’t it?

    Oh yeah!! Or oh NO!!!!? Veg Burrito £6.35 with a Modelo £3.50

    OK, so I ordered a beer. As you do yeah? I’m 42. I got asked for fuckin’ ID? Really? Do I look 18 you fuckwit? The guy was nearly my age for christs ballsack.. In the UK we don’t normally carry ID. Well I don’t (yeah just in case I get busted ;). In the end he agreed to sell me a beer. Thanks dude. So kind. Work it out, you ain’t in the states no more guys, THIS IS LONDON! 16 year old girls get served beer here if they flash their bits.

    Er, WTF is this mush that tastes of slush???

    Anyway. I was raring to go. My first burrito with rice (WTF is it with rice in burritos?? NO NO NO! As this proved). So I went off to sit, and munch to my delight. Or so I thought. My first bite was, er how can I put it? Very, very, disappointing. I had the so-called “hot” salsa. Yeah, and I’m a friggin leprechaun. It was vinegary, not hot and no flavour at all apart from vinegar. The lime/cilantro (coriander) rice was well cooked, but lacked any flavour whatsoever. I’ve had more lime scent walking past a veg stall. And sorry, but if you say cilantro is in it, put some in it or STFU. The black beans were watery and tasteless. The peppers were ok (sorry QG, I love peppers!), and the gauc just ok. Come on, great gauc is how easy to make? The actual tortilla was good, but then that’s easy to do?!! All our supermarkets sell them at £1 for 6 so no surprise. I understand one company make virtually all the tortilla for sale here and these defo tasted the same. Initially I thought maybe it was just my reaction to “American style” food? A few more swigs of Modello (to try and clean my mouth of blandness) and back at I went.

    Nope, its not getting any better…

    It really didn’t get any better. In fact, I left about half of the burrito. When I make these at home, I’ll happily eat 3 or 4 this size, but this one was just not right. It actually made me feel a bit sick. I was worried this meant it had animal shit in it, but after 30yrs of not gobbling animals my gut tells me pretty quickly. It didn’t.

    YUCK!!! A leak , the wrong way…?

    To top it off, the bog (toilet) either had a major leak, or someone really could not aim due to small willy syndrome. I checked them when I first got there, and when I left. About one hour in all. Either way, why was nobody checking these things on launch day?? It’s your big chance to impress guys, you certainly did not achieve that. 10/10 to staff. 5/10 for food. And I’m being overly generous to the food.

    So, in summary? It was the first day, the place looks great and has a good atmosphere, the staff were really friendly etc. The food however, was, er crap. I’ll go back and see if they get any better. I hope the cross contamination doesn’t become an issue, but I fear it will with time. But at this price for a tiny burrito it has got one helluva long way to go. Shame. I was really hoping it would be as good as I’d heard. It wasn’t. I’ve eaten great Mexican food in LA, San Fran, San Diego and Dallas. This wasn’t even food. To quote me: “mine piss on that.” Nuff said for now.

    Chipotle Mexican Grill
    London. 114-116 Charing Cross Road,
    London, WC2H 0JR
    Telephone: 020 783 6849

    Tags: , , ,

35 responses to “Chipotle Mexican Grill Opens in London” RSS icon

  • Love the field report! Kudos for ending the story with an overflowed toilet and paper bits on the floor. I think Chipotle Burrito and clogging a toilet go hand in hand, I think there’s even a South Park Episode about that. I find it hilarious when ever I see a mexican restaurant outside of the USA. I think we need to see a personal photo- Jamie Oliver- to see how your brit bits stack up on those non visitor compliant seats.

  • Does this location have the gardein “garden blend? yet? Because that makes EVERYTHING better. If not, I’m sure it’s on its way. Better yet, demand it.

  • Check out Freebird Burrito stand in Soho. I’ve read great reviews of that place and I’ve asked the owner who says the veggie burrito without cheese is all vegan.

    He even mentioned he was interested in a vegan meat substitute so maybe if enough people ask, he’ll oblige.

  • This is such a disappointment.

  • Da Data Monkey

    Lol Lex. Can’t quite see Jamie in Chipotle after this review but when I see him I’ll ask for you!! 😉

    Sadly not yet Jessica. Soon come I hope. But they have work to do first on the basics.

    Cheers Paul, is that @ Rupert St yeah?? Have you tried Wahaca yet? Tommie has done a great job! http://www.wahaca.co.uk

  • Da Data Monkey

    Oops appears that the big boss Steve Ells was cookin that day.. http://moolis.blogspot.com/

  • I’ve never liked Chipotle. It’s a sad misrepresentation of burritos. Nice of them to include Gardein, but really I’ve always thought of them as “white people Mexican food.” Also, WTF @ not liking rice in burritos! I don’t know how you do things in foggy Londontown, sir, but in my (Mexican) house WE PUT RICE IN OUR DAMN BURRITOS AND WE LIKE IT.

    Chipotle’s still gross though.

  • Da Data Monkey

    @raspberryrush I prefer my rice on the side. Just sayin.. I might not be Mexican but I can cook quite authentic food from what my Mexican friends have said!! Well, if vegan food can ever be called authentic Mexican 😉

  • I love Mexican food more than anything, but I’ve never liked Chipotle. My husband is a big fan though, so it would be great to have a report from someone who has eaten it in the US and can compare the two. I can tell from the sight of that burrito that it’s skimping on the ingredients. It just shouldn’t be all flat like that. £6.35 for that?!

  • Da Data Monkey

    Hi Tikidoll, I actually squashed it flat. I don’t have a big enuf mouth to fit the round version in!! But yeah, it needs more veg. And spice. And cilantro. And garlic. I’m sure they will get it right. It was the first day.

    QG has reviewed the American version and it looks damn good. I want that here!!!

  • Da Data Monkey

    Nice response on facebook from Chipotle about the review. That’s good use of “social media”! I like these guys. http://bit.ly/cKSR3k

  • It’s interesting that McDonald’s once owned Chipotle.


  • I suspect that the burritos in London do not taste any different than any Chipotle you find in LA. Chipotle is one of those places that you either love or do not care for at all. I am guessing it just wasn’t your cup of tea 😉 I am Mexican, and while I don’t consider Chipotle’s burritos Mexican, I think they are pretty darn tastey!

  • Da Data Monkey

    Noooooo. Don’t say that! I want to be able like it. I need a “Mexican” fast food “joint” (ahem)I can take meaters to too, and enjoy the munchbunch myself. They’ll have to change it if that’s case. Simples. ;-(

  • Da Data Monkey

    Confirmation from a friend who is vegan and has eaten both State side and London – she’s American (bless her). She said it does taste totally different, and on a different day to me loved it. I’m going back asap. Update to follow. Fingers xd!

  • Based on quite a few Chipotle trips, I can confirm that sour cream does indeed get dripped into the hot sauces alllll the time.

  • Da Data Monkey

    I did wonder… Balls. Will have to ask them to prepare back of house with fresh ingredients, not from the pots. Might take longer but worth it. They will so not like me… Oh well. So long as I can see it no problem. Or else something human may get added.. Change change change Chipotle London. Da Data Monkey issa coming! 🙂

  • Isn’t 42 a bit too old to still be amused by “Stupid Americans!” jokes? 28 is definitely too old to be amused by hearing them. Just to clarify, don’t go to Chipotle expecting Mexican food; Chipotle is American food. Don’t go to any burrito shops expecting Mexican food; burritos are American. They were invented in New Mexico in the 1800’s and a burriot without rice is not a burrito. It is called an “enchilada”. I’m not sure what exactly went wrong with your “guac” experience but I’m not exactly surprised that it was less than pleasant, since England is an inhospitable climate for growing avocados. What you were eating had probably been frozen and shipped in. I don’t quite understand why the simple act of going into a fast food establishment (not exactly known for their culinary achievements from the start)had to become such a self-indulgent foray into brainless nationalism and petty complaining but good for you for belittling people just trying to earn a day’s living.

  • I thought it was childish, as well, Priscilla.

    I had to roll my eyes at the comment: “The menu is nice and simple, i.e. there really isn’t one. Guess it helps for the Americans.”

    The writer has clearly never been to an American diner, where there can be no less than 5 billion items on the menu.

    Also, a comment like that after me having to read how totally awesome Maoz is, and it’s some phenomenon in England? Take a look at the Maoz menu. Ahem.

  • Da Data Monkey

    Priscilla, firstly avocado’s cannot be grown in the UK at all. Physically impossible commercially. We import from all over the world – including Mexico – FRESH, not frozen.

    Secondly, my “petty” review is also based on spending one helluva lot of tine in the USA eating “real” mexican food. Amongst many other countries. I agree, I don’t expect it to BE mexican, but still good. It wasn’t.

    Thirdly, when I posted a photo on twitter of the “burrito” all I got was responses saying Brits cannot do mexican food. Funny that. Sound familiar? This is an American chain, not brit. We have great, real mexican food here. Also.. Funny that Gregalor said this yeah:

    “Haha, burrito folding fail. Don’t worry, London, you’ll figure it out someday.” Go figure.

    Fourthly. It would be hard for someone like me to be a nationalist. Not a brit thanks. Born in Zambia. Google it.

    Seems you may need to travel more and experience different cultures maybe? Not me. I embrace anyone who has a brain and uses it. If you don’t like my reviews, don’t read them. It’s that simple. I have a sharp sense of irony and my humour is quite sarcastic. Tough. That’s me.

    And Gregalor, if you eat Moaz, you’ll realise the number of combinations is actually over 400. No menu, no. But GREAT FOOD>

    So nice to see your responses. Kinda proves my point. And the next time you enjoy a “fajita” think about what it actually is. A cut of tough cheap, meat that Americans get charged a bomb for. Not a meal.


  • Hello Data Monkey. Sounds like I got you quite upset. That’s a shame. As an American AND a French person, with an English brother, nephew and life partner I just can’t quite figure out why so many English people have to be so rude about all things American. Oh well. I suppose everyone is entitled to their own opinions, no matter how ignorant and uncalled for.

    You’re right, I probably know nothing of other cultures like you do. It’s hard to find the time to travel for fun, what with my being an archaeologist and spending so much of my time working in Central America. Oh and I actually work with one of the top researchers of human evolution in Ethiopia, so I won’t be needing to google Zambia, thanks.

    As for not reading your reviews I think that’s an excellent idea! I actually only came by in the first place because I thought I was looking at a blog about veganism and animal rights. I see that this is more a forum for someone shouting insults at someone else, about whom they know nothing. Keep it classy! Oh and please do consider disabling comments and/or switching to a form of editorial writing in which dissenting opinions or criticism is discouraged. I’m guessing by your use of ALL CAPS and overutilization of “quotation marks” that you don’t take criticism very well…or at least don’t respond to it very well.

    As for your remarks about the fajita…oh, I’m sorry, “fajita”…I don’t know why you’re quite so interested in what my next meal should be but again…vegan…so the tough cheap cut of meat doesn’t quite bother me. Mine are always vegetarian and cost somewhere around the equivalent of 4 pounds. Even if they don’t make what you would consider to be a full meal (which they do!)I’m going to go ahead and just put the food in my mouth, be happy about the fact that I’m able to eat good, healthy food in the first place and move right along with my life. I suggest you do the same!

  • Data Monkey and Priscilla:

    Please stop this pointless argument. We don’t want to see you bickering like this in public. It’s not nice, and it’s not clever.

    Let’s stick to a discussion of the food, please.

  • Da Data Monkey

    It’s not my blog, I’m a guest Priscilla. The QG policy is not to remove if at all possible I gather. I agree with that policy. Let people speak. Go elsewhere or stay. Comment or don’t, it does not upset me at all. And again, I am NOT English. Thank you for your time.

  • Da Data Monkey

    Good point stormer. 🙂

  • I absolutely agree and am writing one more time to say that I will not respond to any further comment along these lines.

    I WILL say however, where the food is concerned, that the corn salsa is fabulous at Chipotle in the US and if it is available in the UK I heartily recommend it. The ones over here are much thicker than the ones in the photos so it may be that the US versions have more vegan additions available (fajita peppers?) or it may just be a UK standard that they are that thin, no matter what’s in them. Either way, don’t judge the chain by the Lodon version if that’s what you get!!

  • Da Data Monkey

    As stated earlier in this comments section Priscilla I squashed it down, that’s why you see that. I have a small mouth. Seriously. It did contain peppers and I was told the corn was not vegan. Peace and love to all nations. Good Vegan food for all.

  • It’s nice of you to suggest travel, but I’m your typical impoverished, chained-to-debt yank. Wish I had the luxury. So be nice: this is the only impression I’m getting any time soon.

  • the pompous attitude of this review turned me off.

  • wah wah wah. half of you should have your user names as make_hate.

    blah blah blah… clean off your potato chip eating while typing fingers. pull your broke ass camera phone picture taking ass out of your computer chair and go submit YOUR own report!

    as posted before, quarrygirl.com is open and encourages you to submissions. “a field report” is the point of documenting a “open” report. how you see it….

    how many vegan blogs that actually hold ANY credibility let you high five or low ball the same food choices they posted upon???????

    laugh, smile, question, have a drink, get fucked while you are at it… you probably need it.

    burritos are english not american or mexican…

    can’t wait to move to london. xo

  • Da Data Monkey

    🙂 I needed to smile. I just did. Peace in Thailand!

  • The problem is that, sadly, customer service standards and food service generally are of a much lower standard in the UK. (I love the UK….I wish I were entrepreneurial, I would open a restaurant over there with GREAT customer service!) When a US restaurant opens there, they seem to sink to the lower denominator (just as Cadbury makes sub-par chocolate for the Americans…..)
    Subway, for example, while great over here, makes sandwiches about 1/2 the size at their UK restaurants and they don’t offer oil and vinegar for a sandwich dressing – how can you offer a sub sandwich without oil and vinegar?
    Chipotle is not the best at home either, though. There is a fantastic chain called Panchero’s….maybe someday they will go international.

  • Subways in the UK used to have oil and vinegar, but that was dropped a few years ago. No idea why. Maybe it wasn’t popular enough? 🙁

  • that scary typical american

    lol. god you totally hit the nail on the head! for a typical know-it-all … euro douche. the USA is fraught with limitless cultural failures, unquestionably. but this review of a Chipotle … wow … way to up the ante.

    where do i begin? hmmm …

    a british national criticizes the construction (e.g., ew rice! no wai!) of MEXICAN cuisine? oh yeah lol nevermind that, but …

    here’s a summary of your review “omg i love chipotle, but when i arrived at the Chee-poh-T-LEE here they asked me to take a dump on a tortilla and i 8 it lol”. go drown yourself in the T’EMZ, you limey, incorrigible, self-inflated, food-critic-wannabe [misspelling-denoted].

    but there’s probably no convincing you. i mean … you’ve physically traveled to numerous places in California (btw – physically locating yourself – even for 41 seconds – in those locations – gives you the POWER of absolutely annihilating any restaurants in the area of purveying anything acknowledgeable as fit for human consumption).

    i could spend hours quoting your pathetically adorable admittance [via this blog post] to being a douche-nozzle-sucking idiot, but i won’t waste the time. suffice to say, if you are an accurate view of what the british know about Mexican cuisine, you don’t know anything, and i wish you the best in wallowing in fruitless self-obsessed self-infatuated mis-informed cuisine whilst the rest of us enjoy actual delicious food. oh wait. never mind. cuisine is like totally lame. you’d prefer to dine on … whatever it is that self-important trend-lemmings follow.

  • that scary typical american

    dude. relax. it’s a Chipotle review. geeeez …

  • Nice review, but about the food, your eating chipotle in LONDON. Your not eating Chipotle in CALIFORNIA. No shit the Mexican food is better in LA, SF, and San Diego. And really, when I went to the Chipotle while I was in London on vacation, it was pretty good. Only thing different from the ones in the US were that the portions were MUCH smaller for a more expensive price and the beans were a bit hard. Other than that, it was a nice homey California meal.

1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

Leave a reply