Habanero, a brand which redefined Mexican food culture in India, launched its new menu this month to surprise Mexican food lovers with much more tantalizing dishes and flavors. The story behind Habanero’s creation is no less interesting than a romantic movie, a desi boy and an American girl met in business school in Arizona. They spent years together in the American southwest, soaking up the region’s cheerful culture and enjoying the flavors of Mexican border cuisine. When Griffith David and Elizabeth Bowden-David moved to Bangalore they missed their favorite cuisine so much that they decided to start their own restaurant called – Habanero, truly Tex-Mex, as the couple spent a considerable amount of time in Arizona region so they decided to have best of Texas and Mexican Cuisine (Tex-Mex) at their restaurant.
Usually when we talk about chain restaurants we do not give much emphasis on decor, music, live stations, and food festivals but Habanero’s brightly painted interiors that lend a cheerful and cozy ambience, live band performances, stylish bar set up and festive celebrations like Cinco de Mayo set it apart from competitors and make it stand in the category of high benchmarks.
During the inception of Habanero in 2011, another very talented American Chef joined Habanero – Dan Durkin, who has a dozen years of experience serving Tex-Mex in Asia and is currently the COO of this brand. Dan himself curated the new menu, it includes some of the classic Tex-Mex favorites as well as some of his new signature creations. Dan who is been in India from past two months is totally in love with the country and planning to make it his second home for now.
The new menu is experimental and bold, full of rich, spicy flavors that characterize Tex-Mex cuisine, the new menu is not confined to popular Mexican delights Tacos and Burritos, it has beautifully plated meat dishes, seasonal and local produce based salsas, meaty taco fillings and perked up Margarita and Pina colada flavors.
The fascinating moment of the afternoon was live Holy Guacamole Station, when a cowboy like dressed staff came with the portable station near our table and with a sweet smile on his face started churning fresh Guacamole for us, in between posing for the cameras as well, the Guacamole was creamy mouth melting combination of avocados, garlic and cilantro served with warm in house made corn chips. While I was waiting for the main course I could not resist myself from nibbling on crisp corn chips and tomato salsa, which is seriously addictive.
Habanero’s specialty dishes include Zucchini Fritters with Tomatillo Relish (Savory cakes of shredded zucchini, breaded and fried and accompanied with a tangy sauce), which was one of the best Zucchini Fritters I have tasted so far, Queso dip with chips (lusciously gooey, warm cheese dip, spiced with green chilies and served with chips) Fish Veracruz (steamed Basa atop vegetables, doused with a tangy, spicy Veracruz gravy – a Mexican coastal specialty), Stuffed roasted red pepper (Healthy and pure veg: sweet red capsicum stuffed with paneer and rice and served straight from the oven), those perfect charred marks in the outer skin of bell pepper were totally photogenic and of course the expected Pork/Chicken Stuffed Soft Shell Tacos.
But for me the showstopper was a giant slice of Tres Leches Cake (Habanero’s most popular treat, simple and divine butter cake soaked in different types of milk and garnished with fruit) served with flavorful milk and fresh fruit compote, tres leches is a Spanish word for three kinds of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. Habanero does this dessert traditional way by soaking the cake overnight in the milk and serving it with the same milk. The sponge was delicate, gooey and moist after soaking in milk and with the generous drizzle of the same milk before eating makes it a divine dessert.