Seeing my tiny taco crumble before me in the cold breeze of Sutton Coldfield’s latest fast-food restaurant was certainly dispiriting – and that’s no euphemism.
Mainly because I, like many others, had allowed myself to get swept away by the hype of US behemoth, Taco Bell, arriving on UK shores.
Being the first of its kind in the West Midlands, naively, I expected the Mexican-inspired eatery to offer a divergent experience to other fast-food establishments.
But make no mistake: Sutton’s Taco Bell is a glorified Old El Paso operation living inside a soulless shell where a Burger King outlet once stood.
There’s nothing particularly imaginative about its decor or layout – apart from a huge ‘hola!’ sign dangling above customers’ heads as they queue.
Studying the menu, I worked out I could bag myself a ‘Crunchwrap Supreme’, ‘Taco Supreme’, ‘Volcano Burrito’ and fries for an extremely fair £12.17.
‘I’ve robbed the bank here’, I thought to myself, while drooling over holographic images of grandiose-looking tacos, filled to the brim with beef/chicken and lettuce.
But, as with most things, expectation vs reality is the killer. Cardboard lettuce and rubbery cheese were there, sure, but where was all the meat?
Considering its hyperbolic name, there’s absolutely nothing ‘supreme’ about what is surely meant to be the chain’s signature dish.
Crumbling inside its wrapper before even being picked up, the taco’s paltry snack size was extremely disappointing. And really, just a bit sad looking.
I ingested the bare meal, no bigger than the palm of my hand, in three bites; admittedly that may say more about me than anything else.
Moving on, I tried the aggressively-named Volcano Burrito (is it meant to scare people?) which is accompanied with a ‘warning sign’ of three chillis on the menu.
It was nice enough, and by far my my favourite meal of the three, but not spicy in the slightest. Hardly melting lava.
The Crunchwrap Supreme to finish was tough, and the wrap tasted like it had been in a fridge too long. The beef inside cold, much like the venue itself, which suffers from a constant breeze.
Sutton Coldfield’s Taco Bell is however boosted by its friendly staff, who are of course all new, probably still trying to find their feet. And there’s no doubting their customer service.
I was a fan of the staff member who generously poured an avalanche of sauce sachets on my tray – even though she likely thought I was dining with a small family, rather than alone.
It made a welcome change from having to jump through fire to prove your worth in McDonald’s, only to get one pot of ketchup.
Taco Bell does have its own very-average tasting sauce, but Heinz still rules the roost here.
BrumWish 2021 aims to get thousands of Christmas gifts to young children in need across our city – the homeless, the vulnerable, kids in care and kids who have little.
This year’s appeal is bigger and better than ever – because we have teamed up with our partners at #Toys4Birmingham, including Thrive Together Birmingham, the Birmingham Playcare Network, the Edgbaston Foundation and Birmingham Forward Steps.
Also involved are Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Barnardo’s, Spurgeon’s children’s charity, the Springfield project in Sparkhill, St Paul’s Community Development Trust and Your Local Pantry, which runs food hubs in 12 locations across Birmingham and the Black Country.
You can buy a gift from the #Brumwish Amazon Wishlist here.
Or you can collect and drop off donations of new and nearly new toys and gifts to special donation days at Edgbaston Stadium, B5 7QU, on Saturday November 27, Friday December 3 and Saturday December 4, from 11am to 3pm, where volunteers will be waiting to see you.
Brand new or nearly new, unwrapped gifts, books and toys for all ages will be accepted.
You can also donate cash, which will go into a fund held by a charity partner to use to plug gaps or buy specialist toys for children with additional needs. This is the link to make a donation.
I used the sauces for my fries which were closer in taste to Nando’s peri-peri chips rather than Maccies – nice, but again, cold.
A very disappointing experience overall, especially as I’d been so eager to try it out.
But if you lower your expectations, and don’t fall for hype like I did, you might enjoy it better that way.
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