15 Leigh Street
Date of Last Visit: Monday, December 7th
The Damage: About £20 each
The Background: After dropping a whole lotta change at Kai in Mayfair with Alice and Cara a few months back, we had agreed that our next stop should be a bit more of the cheap-and-cheerful variety. You might know that I like spicy, so when Alice suggested Chilli Cool, there was no answer but "Yes."
The Entrance: There's some slight confusion when I enter. Firstly, Chilli Cool has two doors. The door on the left is for hot pot. The door on the right is for non-hot-pot. I go in the left door. Oops. They send me next door, at which point I give them Alice's name. They don't have a booking for Alice. Ah, I realize. It's under Cara's name. They don't have a booking for Cara either. After some back-and-forth, I figure out that they do have a booking for "Car" and we're sorted.
Alice has let us know that she's running late and has given us permission to order in her absence. She's also given us a list of dishes, which, combined with some tips from Mr. Noodles, creates our order.
We start out with some Kung Pao chicken, which I always love because of the peanuts. (As it turns out, Alice and I are both suckers for peanuts.) This is a nice dish, but the chicken is a bit on the sugary side for me, and it's lacking the wallop of heat that I was hoping for.
My two go-to dishes in most Chinese restaurants are Ma Po Tofu and the garlicky green beans. I'm looking forward to trying both here because I figure they'll be REALLY hot. Chilli Cool, after all, is a Szechuan restaurant. The Ma Po arrives and it does have a little kick to it, but I'm barely fanning myself. Not hot enough!
Then there are the green beans, which taste as beautiful as they look. I pretty much polish this dish off on my own towards the end of the meal. (Sorry, ladies.) But again, there's just the tiniest bit of chili here. I want more!
The star of the meal has to be Mr. Noodles' main recommendation of the Szechuan beef. I happily take home all the leftovers and have this for breakfast for the next two days. (Who says you have to have breakfast for breakfast?) There's more chili here, and the dish is just dripping in unctuous goodness. But still…it could have been hotter. I think about my meal at Bar Shu back (admittedly) in 2007–where I couldn't down water fast enough and Chilli Cool comes up, well, cold. Cold. Not hot.
The Service: Sweet.
The Verdict: Cheap and cheerful, for sure. But maybe they were trying to be nice to us or something…I could have used more HEAT.