Chico's is a small restaurant in Stone, which is decorated fabulously giving you a Mexican vibe while you are dining. The staff are extremely attentive without going over the top and the manager, Jimmy has everything running like clockwork. The bar was well stocked in fact I doubt there was a drink which they hadn't got!
After being shown to our table, I was handed their vegan menu and the dishes were explained to us. We asked Jimmy why they had decided to create a vegan menu. He explained that the team included two vegans and a coeliac and whenever the team wanted to go out together on their night off or hold team building days it was almost impossible to find anywhere that would cater for them all. So after a few miserable attempts to find somewhere to go they decided to stay in the restaurant and the chef created food to suit everyone. The chef isn't vegan himself but the kitchen used to have a vegan sous chef who has since left. Between them they started experimenting with ingredients and created a vegan menu and a gluten free menu. Any time the team wanted a night out the team stayed in the restaurant, where they knew their dietary needs could be catered for. The menus then grew from there. Jimmy explained that there was no cross contamination of food in the kitchen, and they used a separate fryer for anything vegan. This alleviated my fears as I often wonder what happens when you order fried foods like chips, which is why I never do.
I was in heaven my own vegan menu to choose from and that included all three courses - yes there was a dessert menu which was vegan too! I'd deliberately not eaten much throughout the day as I wanted to try all three courses.
There were 7 choices on the vegan starter menu, some of these included fake meats, which I am not a massive fan of but there were other choices. You could choose from; Tacquitos, Nachos (with 5 different topping choices plus jalapeno's sour cream, cheese, guacamole and salsa), Quesadilla, Taco Shell, Potato skins (with two topping choices), Mexican Flatbread or Empanadas. My sister and I decided on a bowl of Tacos and a Mexican Flatbread to share.
We seriously couldn't believe the size of the starters, we knew we were going to have to pace ourselves! The Tacos were to die for, extremely tasty toppings, we just couldn't wait to dive in. The chef makes his own vegan sour cream from tofu and the guacamole was so creamy everything was delicious. The Mexican flatbread was huge, all flatbreads are baked fresh to order and ours used a homemade dairy free roasted garlic, cilantro and aubergine butter, cheese, herbs and red pepper flakes. We struggled to eat everything and reluctantly left some of the flatbread as we didn't want to fill ourselves up, we'd got a long way to go yet. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our bellies!
For the main course I had a selection of 14 choices, including all your usual suspects; fajitas, enchiladas, burritos and chili. I decided on the cajun vegetables fajitas, I mean how could you not after all your in a Mexican restaurant! Plus I wanted to see how they compared to my own fajita recipes. I was not disappointed!
The chef makes his own top secret fajita spice mix which was not too spicy but extremely flavoursome. The amount of vegetables that arrived on the smoking hot skillet was awesome. The mix included onions, red onions, yellow peppers, red peppers, mushrooms, aubergines, courgette and sweetcorn, topped with a lemon wedge. The fajitas came with 5 flour tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and grated cheese. I'd also ordered a side of refried beans as I am a sucker for these!
I'm not ashamed to say I was defeated! I simply couldn't eat all the food that came out! But it wasn't a problem, my leftover Cajun vegetables and refried beans were packaged up separately in take out containers for me to bring home. And I enjoyed them the next day!
Neither of us had any room for desserts, which was a shame as once again there were 6 vegan options including fruit Enchiladas or Burritos, Churros or ice cream. We did wait for a while in case our bellies allowed for another course but it was no use, we were stuffed. On my next visit I will try a smaller starter or have the nachos for my main course, but with plenty of other options I can see myself going time and time again.
It is absolutely fantastic that a small restaurant in a small town caters so well for those who choose a vegan lifestyle and it was music to my ears as throughout our stay I heard cries of "can I have the vegan menu please?". A massive congratulations to Chicos and I look forward to my next visit, which will be soon!
Chico's don't have an up to date website but please visit their facebook page which has photos of their menus. Go book yourself a table and enjoy a night out with delicious vegan food.