I was sourcing for a venue for M’s birthday lunch and decided on Chili’s at The Central upon the husband’s recommendation as he had been to the one at Tanglin Mall with his colleagues not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed the food there. Chili’s vibrant atmosphere and warm hospitality certainly make it a good choice for group gatherings and/or celebration meals. We had a helluva good time there over dude food! And the icing on the cake? I received complimentary dining vouchers from Chili’s just before this meal. Perfect timing!
Chili’s Grill & Bar first originated in Dallas as a burger joint in 1975 and started its first restaurant in Singapore at Tanglin Mall in 2009. Today, it serves up Tex-Mex cuisine in enormous portions and diverse flavours to satisfy every taste bud.
We arrived pretty early and the restaurant was already half filled for lunch. The friendly service staff at the entrance greeted us with a big smile and even quietly asked me who the birthday girl was. She then reached out her hands to M to wish her a Happy Birthday. Sweet.
We were speedily ushered to our corner table as per my request over the phone when I made the reservation.
Our orders were taken quickly and it didn’t take too long for the food to be served too. Here’s what we had –
First to be served is this wholesome basket of chips and dips. The guacamole dip is made of avocados, cilantro, pico de gallo (a salsa fresca of onions, tomatoes, chillies & lemon juice), fire-grilled corn and jalapenos and served with freshly-fried, hot tostada chips and one additional salsa dip. The guacamole is rich and creamy with a good crunch from the corn kernels. The smooth, buttery taste of avocado goes very well with the salted tostada chips which are perfectly fried with hardly any grease. I actually like their house-made salsa better because of its spicy and tangy flavour that gives that extra kick. The only downside of this salsa is that it is too runny so it’s a bit of a challenge to scoop it up with the chips without dirtying the fingers.
The Triple Dipper is a combination of starters which we can pick from several selections so we get to try a bit of everything. For this, we mix and match the Southwestern Eggrolls, Boneless Buffalo Wings and Texas Cheese Poppers that come with three dipping sauces – chipotle ranch, avocado ranch and blue cheese – and a few skinny sticks of celery.
The cheese poppers are our favourite. Gooey, runny cheese in every deep-fried crispy ball. It is delightful to see how the cheese oozes out as you take each bite and it’s even more heavenly as the flavour explodes in your mouth. We just went ‘hmmm-hmmm’ at the same time! It was pure cheese-gasm for us, cheese lovers.
The Southwestern eggrolls remind me of spring rolls except that the wrap is much tougher because flour tortilla is used. While the filling of smoked chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeno, jack cheese, red capsicum and spinach is unique, there is actually not much of filling in the eggroll so every mouthful is just full of thick, chewy tortilla skin. It’s a pity the exterior isn’t crispy too despite it being deep-fried.
The boneless buffalo wings are made of chicken breast. While it’s easy to eat as you can just pop each bite-size cube into the mouth, the sauce that the chicken has been tossed in is too sour for our liking.
When the tostada chips ran out, we asked the service staff if we could have a refill of it as we still had half of the dips left. She jokingly said no to us but came back with another basket of it. Woohoo, she rocks!
Oh yes, we ordered a salad just so we could make ourselves feel better by sharing some greens! Lol. I don’t expect the salad to be spectacular but it is good! The romaine lettuce is fresh and crispy. The Caesar dressing and parmesan cheese just give it a lot of flavour. The small slab of chicken breast is nothing to rave about as it’s dry and bland.
One of the best grilled baby back ribs I’ve tried in Singapore that’s finger licking good. The rack is full of tender, juicy meat that easily comes off the rib bone without much effort. These are ribs that you can just eat with a fork and knife. Apparently these ribs are smoked in-house over mesquite wood and then grilled to order. I like the smoky flavour that has penetrated the meat so every bite of it is just flavoursome. The BBQ sauce that is basted over the meat is sweet, salty and tangy.
By this time, the short-handed restaurant is already packed full so they have forgotten this order of ours and hence we have to wait for quite a while to have this served after two reminders. Probably because of the unexpected waiting (and resting) time, we are all feeling too full to enjoy this. These tacos come with crispy chicken, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, honey-chipotle and ranch dressing served with a side portion of rice and black beans. We managed to finish the chicken and salad but simply skipped the tortillas, beans and rice.
Dessert is the Banana Bread Pudding that comes in a thick, enormous portion topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel, cinnamon and chopped nuts. While I enjoy the ice cream with all the condiments, I feel the banana bread pudding is just too dry, resembling the texture of a frittata. Also, the body is a bit bland and limp. Definitely a wrong choice of dessert as it’s just too dense and heavy.
The service staff surprised M with a birthday song and a decadent chocolate brownie sundae. M had fun blowing out the candle as it’d keep relighting itself again so we had to wait till the candle runs out before we dig in. This brownie is delicious! Warm, moist and chocolatey. Goes very well with the vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. Now, this is what I call ending the meal on a sweet note!
When we asked for the bill, the cashier came by to inform us the banana bread pudding will be on the house as it came late. We really didn’t expect it as we didn’t mind the short delay as we could just talk and catch up so that was really a kind gesture. Chili’s doesn’t charge for service so it’s up to you to give a tip just like how it’s done in America.
The whole dining experience was truly an enjoyable one with good food and good company. The prices may be on the steep side but they are well substantiated by the huge portions which are perfect for communal sharing. The service crew made us feel so at home, we felt we were partying at a friend’s house. Will we be back again? Of course! In fact, I’m already planning to go with the husband soon to try some of the other stuffs on the menu.
Keep up the good work, Chili’s and thank you for this wonderful time we had.
Chili’s Grill & Bar (Central @ Clarke Quay)
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#01-18 The Central
Tel: 6225 1687
Sun-Tue 11:30am – 10:00pm
Wed-Thu 11:30am – 11:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am – 12:00am