After having heard rave reviews repeatedly about the food at Chili’s, Geeta Mondol and I decided to find out what spices up the place. To our dismay we realized it should have read what salts up the place.
The restaurant was not very spacious but the clever use of glass walls made it appear what it was not. We rejected the initial table that was offered to us, right at the entrance and chose one of the cubicles. We were handed the menu cards by a disinterested looking lady and were left to our own devices until we drew the attention of the passing waiter to place our order.
Geeta Mondol wanted to try the Three Dip sampler, which consisted of the Chicken wings, Fried Chicken and the Northwestern Egg Roll. Heeding to the counsel of the waiter that the portions were indeed huge, we decided to order just one main course- Blackened White Fish in addition to the sampler starter dish. Soon, the starter course arrived, and shortly after we took the first bite of it, the main Fish dish followed, off the kitchen block sooner than anticipated!
The Egg Roll was crispy and soft with a tasty filling of wholesome vegetables until it was revealed to contain smoked chicken too, after a quick run through the menu. The chef did a good job, making us play a guessing game as to whether it was a vegetarian dish or not. The Chicken wings braised with a tangy, lemony sauce tickled the taste buds.
The Fried chicken was soft and juicy on the inside and oily and crispy on the outside, tasting and looking a lot, like the tempuras of the east. Of the avocado, yogurt/milk cream and the mustard based dips that were served I liked the last one the most.
Not wanting to leave the already Blackened White Fish black in the face by being let languishing cold in its plate, we served ourselves a portion each. The Basa fish, I presume, was soft and tender but was skillfully turned into a veritable salt lick by the generous hand of the chef. Much as I had no wish to fuss, I simply could not go beyond the first and my last forkful. I drew a passing waiter to our table and told him that the fish was too salty to be edible. All I got as a response was a blank stare with a Buddha-like smile on his handsome face. I repeated my statement and he repeated his beatific act.
Realising that I was not getting anywhere with this monk masquerading as a waiter, I decided to order the Old Style burger. The monk dutifully asked if I wanted it well done or medium (medium) and went on his way to pound the half-pounder into shape, fit for my stomach.
The French fries were hot off the oil and tasted just right but for the salt! Does Chili use any special oil called Extra Salty oil? Paired with ketchup, the fries were not as bad as they were alone. The burger bun was soggy at the bottom weighed down by the moist, heavy sauerkraut heaped on it. Geeta Mondol and I cut a portion each and I took an expectant bite on mine. Alas, the briny taste that was suffused in every bit of food that was being served to us, in the case of the burger it was the sauerkraut, simply overwhelmed me. I could not finish my portion of the burger too. I asked for my burger medium, but the patty itself felt dry and powdery in texture and indifferent to taste.
At the start of the meal both Geeta Mondol and I were eyeing the dessert menu with its tantalizing pictures beckoning us to forsake our caution in favour of sweet indulgences. At the end of it however, we decided to skip desserts for fear of it being another salt of the earth.
The service was listless. The personnel seemed detached and stoic, as though marching to a different beat. Plates and cutlery were proffered only when asked and at one time not even when asked! The lady brought one set of plates and cutlery and when asked for the second one, she smilingly pointed to the plate that had the extra napkins that I had asked for. Flummoxed with her zen-like frugality, I dumped the napkins on to the table and proceeded to eat my worth of salt from that plate.
The only thing that was worth its salt, with the absence of even a grain of it was the glass of water that was served in huge, generously proportioned beer glasses. Geeta Mondol and I raised a toast to many a glassful of the sweet, unsalted elixir of life and headed our parched way home.
Considering that others had beaten a not so salty “foodpath” to Chili’s in the past, I can only assume that the kitchen had had a “salt day” today. Service standards could do with more salt, however.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 2.5 | Ambience: 3.5 | Service: 1.5 | Overall: 2.5
Meal for Two: Rs 1500| Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timing: 12 Noon to 12:30 AM
Address: Chili’s, 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, Delhi | Phone: 011- 40870532/ 533
– RK Geetha