This week Yvonne and I took my niece Millie to Chiquito as part of Blog Preston’s series of best and worst Preston restaurants according to TripAdvisor. Situated at Preston Dock, it is well placed for anyone wanting to watch a film at The Odeon or punt a burrito into the Ribble.Advertisement
Chiquito has many poor reviews that mention “microwaved food, cold plates and dry meat”. There are mixed opinions with regard to the service, indicating that it varies with each individual member of staff.
As soon as we entered the restaurant a staff member informed us that we needed to enter our car registration number into a machine. Chiquito is yet another establishment whose car park is overseen by the unpopular Parking Eye. However, when staff make a point of asking customers to enter their details it isn’t much of a problem. (Mr White’s Chop House take note.)
We were shown to a booth in the corner and ordered salsa and guacamole nachos and jalapeno poppers from the lunch menu, both at £2.99.
They arrived swiftly and looked as expected, which meant appetizing for the poppers and like a dropped trifle for the nachos. Though the poppers were about the same as in every other chain establishment, Yvonne commented that they were “enlightened” by a sweet chilli dip. It sounded to me like the dip had handed the jalapenos a religious pamphlet, but I got the gist and agreed.
The nachos were let down by tasteless, underseasoned guacamole and bland salsa without a trace of heat. Although there was a decent amount of topping there were very few nachos, which meant too much gloop for me once they’d gone. Millie was unfazed and went in bravely with her spoon.
Whilst we were waiting for our mains we cast an eye around the restaurant. It was about a third full which, when combined with the loud Latin music from a speaker directly above my head and the crashing of the cutlery bucket, resulted in a lively atmosphere and the faint beginnings of a migraine.
The decor at Chiquito was equally up-beat though beaten-up and tatty in places. There was a straw sombrero at every table, which delighted Yvonne and horrified me. I stopped her from donning it because when I was young my friend Julie told me that she once caught scarlet fever from a hat she tried on in Oxfam. Ergo, all communal hats are riddled with olde-worlde diseases and I saved a deeply ungrateful Yvonne from a scorching case of galloping dropsy.
The main courses arrived: pulled pork tacos for Millie, and chilli with rice and a cod bite torta with fries for Yvonne and me to share.
Millie enjoyed her pulled pork tacos, though felt that there was too much barbecue sauce on them making the sweetness overpowering.
The cod bite torta turned out to be an unpleasant kind of fish-finger bap. Yvonne “halved it” whilst I was taking photos of the mains, which meant that I had half a bun with just one and a half cod bites on it. I asked Yvonne if it only came with three of them inside and she said “yes,” which we both knew was a lie. I stared at her until she handed my other one over but wished I hadn’t; they were oozing grease and were 80% batter. Chiquito was either ensuring maximum profit from poor quality ingredients or doing their noble part in the fight against overfishing of cod. The small portion of chips were equally soaked in grease, making the entire dish unappetising.
The chilli was unexpectedly excellent, and possibly the best chilli I’ve had in a restaurant. A good sized portion with a kick of heat and lots of flavour without the bitterness that comes with some tomato based sauces. Yvonne was throwing it down like she was shoveling coal on the Flying Scotsman but nodded enthusiastically when I commented on how good it was.
Unfortunately we weren’t asked how our mains were until our waiter Sandy came to clear our plates. We told him that it was greasy and contained barely any cod and he apologised and said he’d let the kitchen know. The torta had only a couple of bites taken out of it so I would have expected it to be taken off the bill, but Yvonne had eaten half of the small portion of chips, so perhaps that’s why it wasn’t.
We finished the meal with two portions of churros at £2.99 each. I asked for them well done as quite often they are doughy inside, and they arrived perfectly cooked and served with a small pot of chocolate sauce. Sandy also brought a pot of dulce de leche, telling us that we have to try it. It tasted like caramel and biscoff biscuits, and we all much preferred it to the chocolate sauce. Yvonne scarfed hers and asked if the last one was mine as it was halfway to her mouth. Of course it was, and they were so good that I ate it despite her having molested it with her dropsy hands.
The meal came to £38, which includes a small glass of rose at £4.99. I felt the wine was expensive considering the low retail price of a bottle of Echo Falls. The main menu is poor value for the quality of food served at Chiquito and I wouldn’t choose to go there in the evening and pay full price. I would, however, return at lunchtime for poppers, chilli, churros and Sandy’s cheerful positivity.
Have you eaten at Chiquito at the Docks? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.