Note – this review took place during a staff training session with complimentary meals, only drinks were paid for.
I first heard Chiquito were planning on opening a restaurant in Peterborough back in May, so when they invited me to one of their pre-opening staff training sessions for their new Mexican restaurant near Hampton in Peterborough, I of course jumped at the chance to review the restaurant and headed over to see what they had to offer.
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The paint’s barely had time to dry but inside it’s plain to see a lot of time and thought has gone into the decor. A high ceiling dotted with soft lighting and an extensive use of wood give the restaurant a rustic feel, almost that of a converted barn even though only a few months ago this part of Cygnet Park opposite Serpentine Green was undeveloped land.
The dining area has a large round table as a focal point in the centre which is surrounded by smaller tables. The large table is ideal for parties of around 6-8 people so ask for this table when you make a reservation!
We were given a complimentary portion of nacho chips whilst looking through the menu which is something I always appreciate from Mexican restaurants. The cost to the restaurant is minimal, but it’s a nice touch and gets you into the Mexican spirit.
As a self-titled chilli head I usually hunt out the hottest thing on the menu…
Of course you don’t go to Chiquito’s just to admire the nicely upholstered chairs or their choice of building materials, you go there for the food and drink. For many, Mexican food conjures up visions of sizzling fajitas, smoky burritos and baked enchiladas and here Chiquito doesn’t disappoint. The menu still has more to offer however, including burgers, pastas and salads.
As a self-titled chilli head I usually hunt out the hottest thing on the menu – at Chiquito it’s the Pollo del Fuego (fiery chicken), but for those more sensitive to chilli and spice don’t worry, here the emphasis is definitely on flavour more than heat so it’s suitable for all the family.
For our starters we chose Chipotle meatballs and a portion of deep filled Potato skins. Both were very tasty however the meatballs could have had a stronger chipotle chilli flavour for my tastes. I would order the meatballs again but would ask for them to be made with extra chilli! The grilled cornbread served with the meatballs was a surprise as it was slightly sweet, but it was nice and worked with the dish.
Next up, mains.
I ordered the sizzling combo fajitas (choosing classic chicken and steak) whilst my wife had the chimichangas, which are similar to a flour tortilla parcel like a burrito, but fried. The fajitas certainly lived up to their sizzling description with the smoke setting off the fire alarms on several occasions, much to the amusement of other diners.
The meat was served on an incredibly hot skillet with roasted onions and peppers whilst the five flour tortillas were kept warm in a lidded bowl. Accompanying the fajitas were servings of guacamole, soured cream and a salsa plus a bowl of salad and grated cheese. There was so much going on with the fajitas it would be hard to find room on the table if you both ordered them!
The two large chimichanga’s were crisp on the outside and filled with soft shredded beef which had a really rich taste. For me, the chimichanga’s had the edge on the fajitas, definitely less messing around (but that’s half the fun of the fajitas) and I preferred the taste. I last had shredded beef in soft tacos whilst in Mexico and the chimichanga brought the memories back.
Both the fajita and the chimichanga portions were generous and could easily be shared between two if you added on a couple of side dishes.
As the mains were brought to our table I asked the server for some hot sauce but was disappointed to see the hottest they had was Cholula Original. Yes I’m being fussy, but I feel there are much more suitable Mexican “hot” hot sauces available, so hopefully Chiquito will give this some consideration. If a customer wants to burn their mouth with a super spicy sauce, let them – you’ll sell more bottles of Corona as a result…
By the time I finished my main course I was so full I was pretty sure I didn’t need a desert, but on spotting churros on the menu I soon found room – 8 doughnut style cinnamon fingers and a pot of warm chocolate sauce to dip them in. Pure heaven! My wife ordered the single shot Banoffee Pie which surprised as it was warm. The desert shots are a great option if you’re too full for a big desert but just want something sweet to finish your meal.
The cost of the food bill (including two side dishes) came to a reasonable £46.
It’s not just about the food at Chiquito, they do a great selection of cocktails and beers too. If you like your Tequila, you should try the Patron XO – a coffee flavoured tequila which is similar in taste to Tia Maria, but with a kick!
As this was only a training day, it’s hard to say how the experience will be on a regular night but from what I saw I think Peterborough is in for a treat. Some of the staff were noticeably nervous at serving the public for the first time but considering some had no previous experience in the hospitality industry, everyone did a fantastic job.
If you like your food spicy, I would definitely recommend you ask for it to be made spicier. Unfortunately Chiquito have to cater for wimps those more sensitive to chilli so the fire is toned down. That said, this was still probably the best Mexican food I’ve had in Peterborough – and it’s a chain restaurant!
Chiquito is perfect for groups as well as a cosy table for two, I can imagine once the drinks start to flow the atmosphere will get quite energetic so if you’re after a quiet meal ask for a table away from the centre of the restaurant.