Monday, September 16, 2013

CHILI'S Grill and Bar (The Central): Not as hot as its name may suggest

For our latest review, we decided to head over to Chili's Grill and Bar outlet at The Central. The restaurant chain is a Tex-Mex styled franchise originating from the States. To that end, the outlet in Singapore does manage to reproduce the homely and hospitable feeling of mid-Western restaurants. This leads me nicely to our first criteria.

Upon entering the restaurant, you are greeted by friendly staff and a cozy, warm ambience which somehow manages to uphold a lively presence at the same time. A bunch of flat-screen televisions are spread throughout the place, playing programs which are distinctly American such as baseball and basketball matches. These, and the lively music, are good distractions when you await the arrival of your food (they arrived decently fast) and when you are enjoying your meal. Neither sources of sound are too loud and do not intrude on your conversations.

Quality and taste:
Unfortunately, Mark was feeling a little full this time around and only ordered the appetizer sampler (Triple dipper-$26.00) which allows up to three appetizers of ones choice. The appetizers chosen were Texas Cheese poppers, chicken crispers and southwestern egg rolls.
Before I go into my own assessment, here's what Mark had to say about the cheese poppers which I did not try, "Its a throbbing mouth orgasm." BAM! There we go, the reviewly fix of Mark's 'patented' quirky commentaries :D
Those guys on the top left, yep those are the orgasm inducing balls ;)
Personally, having tried them myself at the tanglin outlet before, I'd have to agree. The cheese poppers are full of flavour, but that's the thing, it's just flavour, not flavours, which makes it rather unsophisticated. It's basically just a mix of different cheese (cheddar and mozzarella) fried into a ball. For cheese lovers like myself, it's great, but taken critically as a foodie, it's mostly just cheese done right.

The egg rolls on the other hand had a mixture of ingredients, capsicums, onions, beans and the like. It was pretty good but could have been better controlled. The deep-fry paired with the dominance of black beans resulted in a mostly salty flavour. This is compensated though by its semi-thick and tasteful skin which packs a greasy-sweet and chewy flavour.

Pretty good. Could have been better
The chicken crispers were not so good. It's very reliant on the concept of tasting the original flavour as with most U.S-styled cooking, but the frozen chicken that's most probably used is unsuccessful in providing that. Instead you get a bland, mostly oil-tasting dish.

For my main dish, I ordered a classic fajita combo. That was the first time I was eating fajitas so I didn't really know what to expect. What I experienced was pretty good, but nothing too great. The dish came with chicken and beef strips that had been grilled and placed on the serving hot-plate. They are accompanied by capsicums, onions and a dash of pepper for seasoning. There was a side plate with sour-cream, guacamole dip, cheese gratings and the like to add to the mix.  These are then placed by your own choice of ratio onto a flour tortilla (they provided 4).

Well-grilled. Brown but not charred

Pretty generous portions for the side condiments

Overall, the meat involved does fulfill the American-styled cooking approach. A minimalist touch of only onions, capsicums and pepper helps to bring out the natural flavours of the chicken and beef. The beef in particular was quite juicy and sufficiently tender. The chicken suffers a little in terms of juiciness and again was not too fresh but that is not too noticeable when it's mixed in with all the condiments within the flour wrap. Having said that, both meats are nothing to be overly excited about. None had the melt-in-your mouth, blissful-taste-of-happiness variants of quality meat and at a price of $29.00, you should be expecting fresher meats of better quality. That's not to say that they were not well prepared -in fact, the grilling was quite well controlled at a medium cook, but what you ultimately have here are slightly above average meats which are just presented nicely. That's the problem. If you're going to place your bets on the natural flavours of the meat, good quality meat is a must, lest the dish falls short on taste.

After this step you just roll it up into a tortilla

In terms of value, Chili's fares quite badly. As mentioned, the food was not too bad, but the primary ingredients' mere average quality fails to match up to the menu's high price point. In the end, you feel like you're forking out money more so for the American fare and free-to-watch TVs than the dishes themselves. I should mention though that there isn't a service charge so I guess you could choose to not give tips to cut on your spending if you so wish to.

Chili's is more of a hype. For foodies and most other people, its good for going once or twice just to experience American-styled dining, but it probably won't be on your frequent visits list due to its high price points. Its also generally better for groups of friends and family dining cases where the main concern is an ambient environment for chatting and not so much the quality of the food.

Have you eaten here before? What was your experience like? We're interested -do share with us in the comments below!

Quality & Taste(75%)
Decent food that suffers from mediocre quality ingredients
Value (15%)
Pricing needs some serious reconsideration
Ambience & others (10%)
Ambience is a win. Plenty of themed decorations and cozy layout
No harm in trying it.

#01-18, The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street

Operating Hours:
Sun - Thu: 11:30 - 23:00
Fri - Sat: 11:30 - 00:00

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