Whenever I think of chilli, as in chilli con carne, I am reminded of one of my favourite episodes from The Simpsons
. Homer, king of the Springfield annual chilli cook-off, tries to show off his ability to eat incredibly hot food. Egged on by others, he attempts to eat Chief Wiggum's offering, cooked with "The Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango! Grown deep in the jungle primaeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum"
. After a failed attempt, he coats his mouth with hot wax and goes back for more. The Guatemalan chillies of insanity bring on hallucinations and, Homer wanders through a Daliesque landscape crossed with Dune
, following a space coyote spirit guide voiced by Johnny Cash
, trying to find his soulmate.
Whilst the chilli at Mathilda's Chilli Bar
will not give you hallucinations, I'm pleased to say it has fire and is a far cry from the damp squib of a chilli often favoured by canteens or service stations, partnered with baked potato. The menu here is concise: Texan Brisket Chilli; Three Bean Chilli or Half and Half, which is what we opted for. Topped with fresh guacamole and slices of jalapeno pepper; tender chunks of beef and beans were served in a rich spiced sauce that had a lovely depth of flavour and, long grained rice. M and I both felt this was a three alarm chilli -to use Homer Simpson's scale; the cumulative heat at the front of the mouth, did require the cooling side of soured cream from time to time.
Crisp, vibrant, poppy seed coleslaw also provided refuge and was a welcome counterpoint to the deep-fried sides that we also ordered.
Paprika onion rings were good, dipped into a sweet, smoky barbecue sauce but it was the deep fried pickled gherkins that were knock out.
Served with blue cheese sauce, a real favourite of mine, I could happily eat these with some of the poppy seed 'slaw on the side. My only criticism; the batter is a little crumbly and flaky and had a tendency to fall off and stick in the sauce when dipped. Easily rectified by slathering it on with a knife though.
We rounded off our meal by sharing some toasted coconut ice cream from Copoazu
. Creamy but not too rich, it was a fitting end -but then again, you probably know how much I like their ices
Hidden away in the Bear Pit
, white tiled, black walls and minimal; Mathilda's feels like a proper urban eating adventure. It is not super cheap, but it is
delicious and very filling. I'm intrigued to know if there are any plans to expand their menu in the future, and look forward to seeing how the place develops. In the meantime, get yourself to Mathilda's
, your friendly neighbourhood chilli bar. I think Homer would definitely approve.