After a long day at a convention, the last thing I want is to go come and cook. After MCM the other week, Dave I decided to head to Chiquito on Hagley Road in Birmingham for some dinner. It’s very close, so we’ve been here a couple of times for nights we don’t feel like cooking.
The restaurant was about half full when we arrived, and we got a comfy booth seat. I ordered a Strawberry Mojito, which was more strawberry than any of the other mojito flavours, but it was tasty. Dave chose an Apple Jack, which is Jack Daniels shaken with cold pressed apple juice, fresh lime juice, and ginger syrup, over ice. The Apple Jack is nice, with a subtle hit of booze.
We decided to order some dishes from the street food menu. These are small tapas style dishes, which are three for £12.95 or six for £23.95. We went for six, to share, with a side of sweet potato fries. The food arrived in good time and we dug in.
The Quesadilla Bites (folded tortillas, filled with chicken, chorizo, sweetcorn and salsa, and topped with mozzarella) were so full of filling, they were almost tricky to eat. The filling was very tasty though, with plenty of chorizo for some kick. The Crispy Tacos, which are crispy tortillas filled with spicy chicken, melted cheese, and topped with sour cream, were equally well flavoured. The Empanadas were filled with Beef Chilli and were lightly spiced. The pastry was perhaps a touch thick, but we enjoyed them. The Sweet Chorizo Croquettes were a highlight for me. Packed with chorizo, sweetcorn and onion, these come served with sweet jalapeno jelly, which I could have eaten by the spoonful. The pan-fried chorizo is fried in red wine and comes with some little flatbreads to dunk in the sauce. The chorizo itself was very good, in generous sized chunks, but the red wine hadn’t been cooked long enough to burn off the alcohol. It was incredibly strong, even for me as a red wine fan. It just tasted of cheap, rough, boozy red wine, which was a real shame. I did love the Halloumi Bites though, which were crisp on the outside, and soft inside. Delicious.
Unfortunately, this was where things started to go downhill. We’d enjoyed our meal, and our waitress had been great. We didn’t fancy a dessert, but I ordered a Tiramisu Martini, which was the closest thing I could find to an Espresso Martini on the drinks menu. Chiquito’s system means the server takes your order and it is sent to the bar. When the drink is ready, somebody collects it and brings it to you. So, our table was cleared and I waited for my drink. And waited. And waited. And waited. We could see the bar from our table. There were two staff behind the bar. One was messing about with the tv screen, and the other was loading glasses to be washed. We watched them for a while and neither made any move to make a drink. At this point, our waitress had also disappeared into thin air. We could also see the door to the kitchen from our table. The supervisor had been looking after a table near us, who were clearly a hen party. The service they were getting was certainly attentive, but when they left, he appeared to decide he’d done enough work for the evening, and stood in the kitchen doorway doing nothing. Another member of staff appeared and they stood and chatted for a while, while we sat with an empty table, getting increasingly irritated. I was at the point of just getting up and walking out, I’ll admit, as they didn’t seem to be interested in even bringing us the bill, never mind serving the drink I’d ordered. After several more eons passed, the supervisor noticed our table was empty and came over to ask if we wanted more drinks. When I informed him I’d ordered one a lifetime ago and was still waiting, he then pretended he knew I’d ordered it (why, then, ask if we would like to order drinks?) and would go and chase it up. He came back and assured me it would just be a moment. We watched the barman hastily make a drink, which was brought over. It was badly mixed, but after I’d stirred it myself so all the coffee wasn’t just sitting at the bottom, it was very nice.
I really hate bad service. I worked the floor in restuarants and pubs myself, and it drives me up the wall when I can see staff just standing about when tables need something. Being able to see the supervisor standing around for quarter of an hour made me really angry and spoiled our otherwise nice evening. It’s really not hard to deliver drinks in a timely manner, and even less hard to not ignore a table waiting on service. It was extra disappointing, as we’ve visited this branch a few times, and always liked it. I’ll think twice before going again.
We paid in full for our meal and drinks. All opinions are honest and my own. Chiquito didn’t know I was a blogger.
EDITED TO ADD: After posting this review, Chiquito reached out to me to discuss the issue we had. I had a couple of very friendly tweets assuring me it was being looked into, and very promptly got an equally friendly email apologising for the poor service we received. Chiquito sent me a promise to look into the problem, and as a goodwill gesture, a voucher to spend on my next visit. Thanks Chiquito! That’s how you deal with a customer complaint…promptly, and with friendliness.