As hot as Habanero. The restaurant is a bright new spot dedicated to the lovers of Tex Mex cuisine and is running a full house
The city always needed one, a true blue Tex Mex restaurant that is, which doesn't tweak recipes to suit the Indian palate. Habanero, the month-old restaurant in ITPL, brings to you Mexican cuisine in gigantic American portions. And if you can brave the distance, it's not a bad deal at all.
The spacious restaurant that seats 120 diners wears a sunny look with brightly painted walls, wooden furniture and a huge Mexican hut right in the centre that actually houses the kitchen.
The well-stocked bar with wooden panels and a giant TV within it and an al fresco arrangement for smokers complete the set up. The music, but obviously, is American, but not so much Lady Gaga as it is Madonna.
You can be assured of the authenticity of the recipes, for the man behind the restaurant, Griffith David, lived in the US for 14 years before moving back to his country in 2006.
Griffith and his wife Elizabeth was missing Tex Mex so much that they decided to open a restaurant focusing on the cuisine. They roped in Dan Durkin, who grew up in Mexico, as the visiting chef who formulated the menu, which is where all of this is mentioned.
Having come to a Mexican joint, we had to try the nachos, the Macho Nacho Chicken(R 375) in this case. Now, the World's Largest Nachos, according to the Guinness Book of Records, made at the good Food Show in Melbourne in 2002, weighed almost 1259 kilos.
The one we were served by beaming men in bright yellow T-shirts, was almost that big, no kidding! The nachos, by itself was a dish, as we realised later. But it was too late by then as we had already placed our order for the rest of the meal.
The nachos (16 mammoth ones) the biggest ones we have ever seen, could be easily shared by four people. They came saddled with plenty of olives, mozzarella, refried beans, lettuce, tomato and served with the traditional Mexican combo of guacamole(an avocado paste) and sour cream, a staple for almost all the dishes in Habanero.
The mountain of nachos proved to be one of those dishes that initially intimidates you with its quantity but eventually gets friendlier and quite unputdownable. It certainly is the best of its kind we have had and one that our palate will remember for a long time.
Up next was Quesadillas Mushroom(Rs 225). Cheesy and soft, the button mushrooms in it were cooked in a pleasant gravy. The Cajun Chicken Breast(Rs 275) was fiery and rustic, as it ought to be, with a tender meat that soaked in the spices.
The Prawn Fajita (Rs 400) in a sizzler hot plate had king prawns with grilled vegetables and came with Spanish rice, refried beans, a tortilla and of course sour cream and guacamole. You have the option of rolling the cream, avocado and rice into the tortilla.
But the trouble is that the Spanish Rice(no one knows it by that name in Mexico, by the way), that looks quite inviting with its reddish orange hue, is actually as bland as the refried beans, and when stuffed into a tortilla roll with the cream and guacamole, won't taste radically different.
What you should concentrate on instead are the prawns, for they are juicy, grilled to perfection and truly heavenly.
The dessert for the afternoon had to be the Chocolate Crumble Cake with Ice Cream(R 160). Quite a fancy name for something as basic as the cake fudge with two scoops of vanilla and chocolate sauce.
But it's a long way before they can even come close to the legendary Cake Fudge in Corner House. Quite easily the least impressive dish of the meal.
Habanero has got its strategy right. They are catering to a sizeable techie crowd in the catchment area who perhaps have been to the US and are familiar with Tex Mex cuisine.
Going strictly by covers, they're doing exceptionally well for a new entrant that hasn't gotten into an advertisement overdrive just yet. Habanero is something like a dynamite, much like the Mexican chili it's named after.
WHERE G-1 Ground Floor,
Square Mall, ITPL
ITPL Main Road
FOR R 1700 for a meal for two
Habanero didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.