Monday, 23 July 2012

Street Food Chef - Mexican Canteen

Street Food Chef has become a real favourite in our house. The burritos are perfect any time of the day and I'm a particular of the breakfast burrito (the chilli heat is perfect for sorting out those hangovers...). And it seems that ours isn't the only household that has fallen in love with these bad boys. The Pinstone Street branch is constantly bustling with customers and although the queue can be a little off putting, the burritos are built for speed and you'll never be waiting too long for your lunch.

Having said that, a second branch is certainly no bad thing and the Mexican Canteen is a welcome addition to the city. Living so close to the Pinstone Street branch, I'll admit that it's taken some doing to get me all the way down to Arundel Street. After all, what could they possibly offer down there that I can't get around the corner?

Well, for one they offer seats. Hardly ground breaking but it did mean that Gav and I could enjoy a Mexican lunch together today in comfort. The Canteen offers the chance to eat in and take away and there's ample seating for those dining or waiting as well as a few tables outside. The decor's bright and cheerful, with walls painted in bright orange and yellow and there's a few Mexican trinkets dotted here and there. Admittedly it looks a bit 'work in progress' as some of the walls are a bit bare, but it's clean, fresh and inviting.

The open plan kitchen sits behind the counter where you order your food. It's a simple process, choose what you want from the menus pinned up around the counter area, order, pay, take your little numbered disk to your table and wait for your number to be called out.

The menu is quite similar to that at Pinstone Street and I do wonder whether these Mexican chefs plan on trying something new, some fish dishes, soups and fresh salads would be welcomed. But as I sat down and watched the kitchen at work, I realised that these complicated additions to the menu would just slow things down; and this is street food after all.

Initially I thought about being healthy and ordering a Mexican plate, then I thought about getting a quesadilla, but my rumbling belly won out and I went for the pan fried burrito, with guacamole. I'd gone for medium heat (I save the super hot sauce for hangovers) and I was glad to see that it was served with a simple salad along with some freshly made salsa. Better still was the soured cream, guacamole and chilli sauce which all adorned my fat burrito. 

My favourite filling is the Moss Valley pulled pork, not just coz I'm a fan of this Sheffield pork, but coz it's bloody tasty and I went with that today*. The pork was tender and juicy, the refried beans added a good texture and flavour to the package and the rice ensured that all my carb cravings were fully satisfied. I'll admit that it was a struggle to get through due to the sheer size of it, but believe me, I wasn't going to let it beat me! 

Mexican Plate
Gav was intrigued enough to try a Mexican plate, which was essentially a naked burrito; all the goodness without the tortilla wrap. It was quite a decent serving and it was good to be able to appreciate each component of the burrito in their own right. For the first time we had able to taste the refried beans properly (and they were delicious, by the way). There was a good amount of meat on the plate too - he'd gone for the slow cooked beef brisket - his favourite filling.

The plate was smaller than mine (no bad thing) and it's the perfect size for anyone wanting the flavour of the burrito without the heaviness of the tortilla (anyone on a diet would do quite well here, just skip the cheese), but Gav isn't on diet and this was a treat for us so he went and ordered a breakfast quesadilla too! The tortilla was light and crispy and we were pleased to see that there was the addition of refried beans and tomato salsa to the usual cheese and bacon filling normally found at Pinstone Street.

All three dishes along with a couple of bottles of Fentimans came to less than £20; a reasonable price we thought, especially as we really had not held back.

So, what can Mexican Canteen offer that Pinstone Street can't, aside from seats? Well the Mexican plates are a good addition to the menu, as are the new quesadilla fillings. I also really liked the salsa and sauces served with the burrito, something that just isn't practical in a takeaway. Will I walk the extra 15 minutes to visit the Mexican Canteen over my local branch? Who knows. If Gav and I are after a civilised sit down lunch, then yes, if I'm after a quick fix hangover cure, then no.

I tell you one thing that would guarantee a few more visits.... an alcohol licence. In fact an ice cold beer and a burrito would go down lovely right now...

*Sheffield Food lovers will also be glad to find Our Cow Molly milk in the fridge, #brownies on the shelf and Yee Kwan ice cream in the freezer as well as the obligatory (although not at all Mexican) Hendo's relish on the tables.

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