Putting the Mex in Tex-Mex

Mexican feast at Habanero. Photo: Ashwin Kumar R.  

Speedy Gonzales would feel right at home in this Mexican setting of mustard yellow walls with arched alcoves. A man in a huge sombrero and thick-knitted poncho pushes a cart to our table and announces, “I’m here to make the Holy Guacamole,” and quickly uses a stone mortar and pestle to grind up some green chillies, avocado, garlic, onion and tomato with a splash of lime.

“I’ve never eaten a phrase, but here goes,” says my friend, dipping a corn chip into the guacamole. And it is delicious, like most things at Habanero, the Mexican speciality restaurant at Phoenix Market City.

The menu starts off with the story of Griffith David and Elizabeth Bowden-David, the husband and wife team who started the chain in Bangalore six years ago. The Chennai outlet is the first outside the city and has been brought here by Tarun and Rohit Nair of Olive2eat Foods.

Each page has an interesting snippet about Mexican food. You can bone up on your Spanish as well: the menu teaches you the right way to pronounce enchilada, fajita and quesadilla among other dishes.

We order the mini plate of nachos but there’s nothing small about it. The crisp nachos are made in-house (as are the corn chips) and are piled high with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, jalapenos, black olives and cheese, topped with sour cream. Try the refreshingly different papaya salsa with the nachos. As we work our way through this, the tender diablo prawns arrive in their spicy sauce. They go well with soft tortillas and the slightly tangy tamarind margarita.

A word of advice here: order your mains when you’re halfway through your starters so you can decide how much you can eat. And don’t be fooled by the “sample size” mention on the platter: the portions are quite hearty. It’s all meant to be shared and is the perfect place for fun outings with a large family or group of friends.

We go for the vegetarian sampler plate — you can choose any three dishes out of six — and choose the burrito bowl, chimichanga and enchilada. Everything comes with a serving of guacamole and sour cream. The burrito bowl is spicy, filled with rice and topped with strips of nachos and lettuce. The chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito that is filled with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and beans, which is not greasy or heavy. The enchilada, however, is not to our liking. It has a very Indian taste, probably because of the paneer filling.

The beef steak is filled with bell peppers and jalapenos and topped with cheese and is medium rare as requested. It’s flavourful and tender and served with a tortilla, black beans and a rather dry tomato-flavoured rice.

The dessert section looks tempting, and we request for the churros. The warm, fried choux pastry is coated in sugar and we can smell the cinnamon on it. Dipped in melted chocolate, it’s the perfect way to end the meal; a siesta is quite in order after this fiesta.

Habanero is located on the First Floor of Phoenix Market City. A meal for two costs Rs 900.

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 2:25:23 PM |

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