American foods

 

Last night was dinner with the family. The four of us tossed back and forth between a couple of different restaurant options, but in the end we decided to go with Chili’s Bar & Grill out in Kahala Mall. Even on a Monday night the mall was pretty crowded, and much to our dismay roughly half of the parking stalls available in the parking structure were marked for “1 hour only.” So it was up to the second floor for us and a short walk down to the restaurant. Chili’s is located in Kahala Mall in its own separate building just off of Waialae Avenue. Chili’s Kahala does not accept reservations but it didn’t seem too busy on a Monday night.

Once you’ve stepped inside beyond the two double doors, we were greeted promptly by the hostess who showed us to our table. The restaurant was relatively busy but not filled to capacity. The rear section of tables and booths were all empty. The decor of any Chili’s restaurant is always very interesting with various doodads and chalk art posted up on the walls. The tables themselves are tiled on top with multicolored patterns. There also various posters on walls about Chili cooking contests and other restaurant related events.

Upon sitting down we were asked for drink orders. We asked for a round of water and I ordered their signature Presidente Margarita ($7.50). The margarita is a mix of Sauza Conmemorativo tequila, Cointreau liqueur, Presidente brandy, and a splash of lime juice. The margarita is served chilled in a shaker and a salted martini class is provided. You can order this margarita with or without ice. I must say that for the price involved, Chili’s mixes up a generous amount of margarita. The Presidente margarita’s lime juice and choice of tequila gives it a very refreshing taste, which is perfect for the summertime.

After ordering drinks the waitress left us to browse the menu. A few minutes later were all ready to order, but she had not yet returned. In fact, it took quite a while for her to come back and take our order. It was a little upsetting to be kept waiting. When she finally did arrive to take our orders we placed orders for an appetizer to share, soup, and our main entrees.

 
For an appetizer to share we had ordered the Triple Dipper ($12.99). With this appetizer sampler you have a choice of three of the following appetizers: Boneless Shanghai Wings, Southwestern Eggrolls, Boneless Buffalo Wings, Wings Over Buffalo, Chicken Crispers, Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip, and Fried Cheese. For our order we picked the Wings Over Buffalo, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, and the Fried Cheese. When the sampler arrived we found that the dip was cold, so we had to send it back to be rewarmed. After it came back we started to dig in. The fried cheese had a nice crust, but could have been a bit crunchier. In addition the sauce for the cheese was not all that flavorful. The dip was not unlike those offered at so many other restaurant chains. The Wings Over Buffalo were tasty, the sauce used on the chicken was very tangy with a nice little kick of spice. This was the best of the three items in the Triple Dipper.

Only having had the appetizer for a few minutes, all of our entrees began arriving. This crowded the table immensely and made it a little difficult to maneuver about all the different plates. The order of soup that we had put in came at the same time with the entrees, despite the fact that we had requested it to be brought out first. On top of that, the soup was cold and had to be sent back to be rewarmed! The first entrees to arrive were the two dinner salads, the Southwestern Cobb ($12.49) and the Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad ($12.49). I had previously tried the buffalo chicken salad and can tell you that the combination of spicy chicken with ranch dressing in the salad makes for a very tasty meal. The Southwestern Cobb seemed to be a little of a disappointment as it looked exactly like the buffalo chicken salad minus the spicy buffalo sauce.

Immediately after the salads arrived our two hot entrees were brought to the table. I had ordered the “Mix & Match” Baby Back Ribs ($20.99). This lets you chose between the following rib styles: Original, Blazin’ Habanero, Honey BBQ, Memphis Dry Rub, and Carolina. I opted to try the Original and the Blazin’ Habanero ribs. An order of baby back ribs comes with two sides. I chose the french fries and sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions. The Original ribs were very good, well basted and not lacking in sauce. But my favorite was the Blazin’ Habanero! Just as tangy as the BBQ sauce on the original ribs, the habanero component gave these ribs a strong kick! Anyone who likes spicy foods will want to try this. And finally the last entree to arrive was our Mushroom Swiss Burger ($10.49). Chili’s burgers are all very large and come with a nice pile of french fries. Cooked medium-well, the patties at Chili’s are very juicy. The classic combination of sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese marries well with the beef patty, making for a great burger.

Final thoughts: Chili’s Bar & Grill is little more than your typical American grill. It offers up some special menu choices that range from healthy (Guiltless grill selections) to very spicy habanero pepper dishes. From what I have experienced so far their margaritas are very good and come with a good dollar value as well. More often than not I am pleased with the taste and quality of the food that is served up at Chili’s, and have yet to find any dish that I really didn’t like at all. However, the experience we had last night (and the last time we went to the Kahala location!) was soured by the lack of prompt and quality service. Not only were we kept waiting for our orders to be taken, but food was brought out all at once making for a very crowded and frustrating table. In addition, the appetizer and soup orders were both cold when brought out, and had to be sent back to the kitchen. Overall, I feel that Chili’s Bar & Grill does well with their food preparation in regards to taste, and is generally a fun and lively environment. But Chili’s could focus a little bit more on service in order to make their customers’ experience all the more