i’ve never loved Chipotle and Wahaca so much

Bandidos: 31-33 Kingsbury, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 2JA

Bandidos is an independent Mexican restaurant in the heart of Aylesbury. Stairs lead straight down from the cheap, unattractive outside front to a leafy and warm interior. So far, so good.

The menu compromises a mix of Mexican and American-Mexican dishes from chicken wings to enchiladas, lamb shank to nachos and everything in between. It took an extraordinarily long time to order our drinks, so long in fact that we were ready to order our food as well. The waitress confessed she didn’t know most of the wines and, when she did bring the house wine (a Sauvignon Blanc apparently) she told us it wasn’t that but she didn’t know what it was. We didn’t like it. Exploring the wine list, the waitress mentioned we could have something not on the menu. As we cracked the joke of running to the nearest off-license she nodded, seriously.

The starters arrived fairly soon. Bandidos Nachos appeared in a small bowl, more akin to cat sick than layer after layer of Montery jack cheese and jalapenos. The accompanying sour cream, guacamole and salsa never materialised. It didn’t taste great either. Grilled tiger prawns on a bed of roast red peppers actually compromised 4 prawns on a bed of lettuce with a scattering of shrivelled red peppers. The chicken wings were small, though tasty, but the chilli mayo dip was far too hot, even for spice-fantics. By now we were feeling rather misled by the appetising menu.

But it was too late to back out now. The mains were on their way. While waiting, we ordered more drinks and I’ve never been served by someone so apathetic about their work. I asked for a second lime and soda, a pint this time. A half accordingly arrived and the waitress asked “did you ask me for something else there?” It was becoming painful.

My two dining partners chose the Mexican Grill: what looked on the menu like a meaty feast of lamb, chicken, steak, sausage along with rice, chips and salad. The chicken was suitably spicy and juicy; the minced lamb kebab was unappetising and equally disappointing. The beef tasted like it was out of a packet: dry, luke-warm and chewy. The rice was scattered with cubes of onion and pepper though lacked seasoning, while the chips, well, let’s just say the Aunt Bessie had done a good job! Chicken tacos were served with three rectangular baskets, about the length of your wrist to halfway up your forefinger. They were dry, greasy and tasted stale. The chicken was served in a bowl with heaps of bland fried onions and peppers, the rice similarly bland and lacking in any kind of texture. Again, it came without the promised salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. The second waitress was more attentive and apologetic, rushing to get the condiments. Unfortunately, the sour cream was thick, like a sticky meringue, the guacamole rather more successful though not fresh and the grated cheese was rather useless to melt over the now cold food.

Side orders of garlic mushrooms and coleslaw were average. The mushrooms, coated in overcooked breadcrumbs were greasy and oily but had a wonderful garlic flavour. The coleslaw was, well go down to Sainsbury’s or Tesco and try it yourself.

The service was abysmal throughout, and not to just to our table. The couple next to us complained at how long their drinks were taking, the staff seemed more interested in lolling behind the bar and we saw one waitress discuss a problem with a customer as she lounged over the back of a nearby chair. Yes it’s a casual, fun and friendly restaurant but there should be a difference between who’s relaxing and who’s working. The bill came to £67 for three, including one bottle of wine. We weren’t satisfied, didn’t enjoy the food and weren’t placated by the service. If, as the waitress told us, they do plan to open a second restaurant in wealthy Chiltern town of Beaconsfield, they’re going to need to do better than this.

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