The ‘Chiquila’ Tequila Pairing Menu at Chiquito – The Old Brewery Quarter, Cardiff (Review)

I was recently invited along to Tex-Mex restaurant, Chiquito in Cardiff’s Old Brewery Quarter for ‘Chiquila’ – an evening of street food and tequila pairing. This was the fourth Chiquila event that Chiquito has organised but significantly, the evening I attended in Cardiff was the first to take place outside London. 

When I caught a glimpse of the Chiquila pairing menu, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it offered something a little different to what you would expect from a Tex-Mex chain restaurant that currently has no less than 85 UK outlets. Similarly, I was pleased to hear that around 86% of the food on Chiquito’s menus is prepared fresh in-house. 

The drinks had been carefully selected to show how the different flavours found in different varieties of tequila can be used to create a range of exciting cocktails. Each one was been hand-picked by Chiquito’s Head of Bar, Ross Walton, who included some of the lesser known drinks he discovered whilst on his travels in Mexico last year.

Meanwhile, the street food menu was designed by Chiquito’s Executive Head Chef, Simon Xavier and reflected the dishes traditionally sold by Mexican street vendors, with simple, fresh tastes and cooking styles derived from the United States and Southern Europe, combined with Chiquito’s unique feel to create bespoke dishes that complemented the tequila cocktails. 

The street food and tequila pairing menu kicked off with a pre-starter of tortilla chips with beet feta whip and fresh salsa, served with Le Patrionic  – a light, zesty cocktail of Patron Blanco tequila, St Germain elderflower liqueur and tonic water.

The beet feta whip was smooth and creamy, with a barely-there hint of beetroot and tangy feta cheese. The consistency was ideal for dipping the tortilla chips in. Meanwhile, the salsa was bursting with fresh, piquant flavours and although I could’ve tolerated a higher level of spice, it was about right for my housemate, James, who accompanied me to Chiquito. 

The only downside of this dish was that there was no fresh guacamole to dip our nachos into. The menu stated that the tortilla chips would be served with beet feta whip and fresh guacamole but this wasn’t the case, so I assume the salsa was a replacement. However, I absolutely adore guacamole and it was strange to eat tortilla chips without it. 

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The first course included mouthwateringly more-ish, crunchy halloumi bites – chunks of halloumi cheese fried in light breadcrumbs, topped with a sweet cranberry salsa, a slice of red chilli and fresh coriander. Halloumi is one of my favourite kinds of cheese and I’ve never thought of frying it before, but I’m definitely going to try this at home as an indulgent treat or a tapas dish for a dinner party. 

The halloumi bites were paired with a fresh pineapple and cracked black pepper margarita cocktail, made using 100% agave tequila. This had a thick, foamy texture, similar to that of milkshake. We struggled to taste the pineapple, but we could definitely taste the black pepper and we thought we could detect a hint of salt too;  an interesting take on the traditional margarita, but the original wins hands down for me!

Halloumi bites with pineapple and black pepper Margharita cocktail
Speaking of which, our next course featured a classic, zesty Margarita cocktail made using 1800 Blanco – a sweet, earthy premium tequila made using 100% blue agave from the Tequila Highlands. 

This was accompanied by a mini soft white tortilla filled with baby gem lettuce, vibrant pink onions and chipotle cod loin, finished with creamy chipotle mayo. When we tasted this dish, James and I gave each other that raised eyebrow, wide-eyed look you give someone when you’re dining out in a restaurant and you’re both enjoying the food so much, yet you don’t say anything because you either don’t want to stop eating it, or you just can’t think of the words to describe how incredible it tastes. I am genuinely gutted that the soft cod taco isn’t available on Chiquito’s regular menu; James and I both agreed that we would’ve been back to order this as a full-size portion by now if it was. 

Cod taco and Margarita cocktail
Our third course took the form of two small skewers of habanero- and honey-glazed chicken. Scrumptiously sweet and smoky, the chicken was tender and juicy and tasted delicious topped with a dollop of soured cream and a sprinkling of paprika. 

The chicken skewers were served with tequila con sangrita – a trio of spicy sangrita, Gran Centenario Blanco tequila and cleansing sangrita verde (ordered from left to right in the below picture). We were told that we could either sip each drink slowly or down them in one go; after noting the thick consistency of the sangrita and sangrita verde, I gulped all three down as quickly as I could. They went to my head almost instantly (which may also have had something to do with the three tequila cocktails I’d drunk beforehand!) and they definitely introduced an element of fun to our dining experience, although in future I would probably only order these if I was to visit Chiquito on an evening-out with friends.

Habanero honey hicken and Tequila con Sangrita cocktails
Our final savoury course was the chimchurri skirt skeak, served on a bed of roasted onion and peppers. As Chiquito’s food expert, Simon, explained, skirt has always been regarded as a cheap, tough cut of steak, but if it is prepared the right way, it can taste fantastic. He told us that the best way to prepare it is to give it a good beating beforehand to break up the gristle and then to cook it for no longer than two minutes per side, until just medium-rare. Indeed, the skirt steak was succulent and lean and the freshly made chimcurri marinade ignited the dish with fascinating, fragrant flavours. 

The steak was matched with an 1800 Cabernet smoked rosemary Margarita, concocted from a mixture of 1800 Reposado – one of Jose Cuerbo’s best-kept secrets – a blend of tequilas matured in French and American Oak for up to a year to produce vanilla and caramel tones. 

Chimichurri skirt steak with  rosemary Margarita cocktail
For dessert, we indulged in freshly baked, hot churros filled with rich, dark chocolate sauce, served with Patron XO Incendio – a chilli-chocolate flavoured tequila, served warm. The churros tasted even better dipped into the chilli-chocolate tequila, which was too pungent for me to consume alone as a drink. 

Churros with chilli chocolate tequila for dipping

We had a fantastic time at Chiquito’s Chiquila street food and tequila pairing evening. It was refreshing to see a chain restaurant dishing up authentic, freshly prepared dishes like those we sampled at Chiquito. I still can’t stop thinking about that cod taco! At ยฃ25 for five courses, the Chiquila pairing menu can’t be beaten on price; you’d pay a lot more than that for five cocktails alone in most bars I know of! To find out if Chiquito will be holding a Chiquila street food and tequila pairing evening in a city near you, or to place a booking, click here.

Chiquito
The Old Brewery Quarter
Cardiff
CF10 1FG
(029) 2038 7465
www.chiquito.co.uk/restaurant/cardiff-brewery-quarter

I was invited to Chiquito as a guest and our food and drink was provided complimentary; however, I was not obliged to write a positive review.

What’s your favourite dish on Chiquito’s Chiquila tasting menu? Drop me a comment below… I love hearing your thoughts!

25 Comments

  1. May 15, 2016 / 3:34 pm

    This tasty menu sounds awesome. I really like the look of that beef skirt and I need the cod soft taco in my life.

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      The cod taco was definitely one of the highlights of the evening – just, wow! I need one of those again!

  2. May 15, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    The drinks looks delicious. I’m extremely fussy with food so I’m unsure if its a restaurant I would visit personally but I know my husband would enjoy it!

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:23 pm

      It probably isn’t the best place to go for food if you’re a fussy eater, but I think Chiquito’s standard main menu probably has a few more ‘play-it-safe’ options ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. May 15, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    I am going to chiquito’s sometime soon and I am so excited after reading this. Sounds really yummy and you can not beat halloumi bites x

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:23 pm

      Ooh, you’ll have to let me know what you think of your visit ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. May 15, 2016 / 7:14 pm

    Wow this looks just absolutely amazing, all of the food is just lush x

  5. May 15, 2016 / 7:25 pm

    ยฃ25 for 5 course meal? That is definitely a first and I am loving it. I have only been to chiquito once before and I enjoyed their food, I hope to make an appearance soon as that menu is too exciting

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:22 pm

      I thought the price was amazing too, especially when you factor in the cocktails as well.

  6. May 15, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    Wow! That is a bargain and such yummy food ๐Ÿ™‚ Great photos!

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:49 pm

      Definitely – the value for money was excellent, and so was the food = one happy Kacie! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. May 16, 2016 / 12:35 am

    This food is making me SO hungry right now. I could try everything here! xxx

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:22 pm

      I could eat it all over again for sure! So good ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. May 16, 2016 / 6:23 am

    Oh my gosh yum! Loving the sound of those halloumi bites especially! Sounds like my kind of place. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:48 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚ The halloumi bites were definitely one of my favourite courses.

  9. May 16, 2016 / 10:31 am

    This has made me so hungry! The desert looked incredible x

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:48 pm

      The dessert was so indulgent… just thinking about it makes my mouth water!

  10. May 17, 2016 / 1:30 am

    This post has got me so excited for my holiday to Mexico! I absolutely love it there so any bit of it I can get back in England is worth it! I don’t know where the closest Chiquito is to me though ๐Ÿ™ Will have to find one!

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      Aww, you’ll have to check their website to find out where your nearest one is – well worth a visit ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. May 17, 2016 / 8:49 am

    I LOVE Chiquito, it’s one of my favourites! I’m actually not a big fan of tequila, but I love the look of those halloumi bites! Right up my street!

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      I kinda forgot about it Chiquito until I went to this event; I’d definitely go back now though! The halloumi bites were really good ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. May 17, 2016 / 12:18 pm

    This review looks amazing, I have been to Chiquito in the past and it’s always been great, excited to see this menu next time I go ๐Ÿ™‚

    • May 17, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      Thanks, it was really nice. They only run this menu for one-offs in certain restaurants, but if you check on their website it should tell you where they are going to be ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. May 17, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Oh wow, wow, wow. This all look so tasty! My brother lives in Newport and I may have to drag him along to here the next time I go and visit

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