I am not a fast food eater. Re-read this phrase twice for both meanings.
So, I’m not a fast eater. And thus not a fast food frequenter. And inevitably not into fast food restaurants. Friends, dates and acquaintances alike have often grimaced, frowned, smiled, and outright shunned my liking for things that are ornate, eclectic, and my ability to like perfectly measured and studio-lit ambiances rather than the consumable specimens in my plate. But it is difficult to enjoy consuming a morsel off a fork if the fork itself rests on a table that is bare with woodwork eroded by past eaters, or if all I can see around me are bare walls painted with founder’s sweat, literally, since hole-in-the-wall type restaurants tend to extrapolate their close-to-home mentality in their restaurants too. Why not just stay at home then? My home has pretty walls, with ornate décor too. Returning to fast food restaurants, these are the big boxes of standardized and stamped interior clutter, aligned so perfectly in place as if they were pieces of iron all aligned with a giant magnet into place. So much so that you cannot decipher a restaurant X of California from one in Michigan to one in New Jersey. Hence, my appreciation on trying things that are not fast, and not fast food.
Now, would you classify Chili’s as fast food? Lets run down some of the checks for a fast food restaurant. Fast service, check. Tablecloth-less, check. Dark uniformed serving staff, check. Menus oozing with fat inducing, gut belching, but mouth watering delights, check. Cheesy music in the background, maybe not. Identical tables, lamps, ambiances, almost. Well, perhaps not as mass market as its McDonalds counterparts, and probably not as promising as the guise of Cheesecake Factory, but a solid in-between positioning is a comfortable place to be. So, not a place I would have tried ordinarily, if it wasn’t for one single thing that Chili’s had achieved perfection in.
That is, the molten chocolate cake and the chocolate chip paradise pie. The former is its forte, one that it has fallen prey to diversification with the chocolate chip molten cake or the grimace-inducing white molten chocolate cake. Naturally, neither rise to the taste or visual appeal of the parent.
The molten chocolate cake arrives in an enviable size, so much so that perching your head on the table right next to it would disable you from seeing anything but this magnanimous mountain of chocolate with ice cream lava flowing off it. Although the ripples in the cake give it an artistic effect, some may argue that that the near perfect texture makes it seem more mass produced. Yet, the attractiveness of a volcano with floral accents overrides this minor hiccup. The texture of the cake is halfway between the spongy moistness of a chocolate cake, and the velvety denseness of a brownie, a texture which tastefully conceals and complements the molten chocolate within. Before reaching to the core prize, one must crack through the surprisingly crisp and paradoxically frozen chocolate shell that lazily shapes itself around the large snow cap of vanilla ice cream. Upon cracking this open, the ice cream sways side to side, as if the molten chocolate lava is urging it to move, almost like a rehearsed sequence. And as it slips down the gooey value, with the assistance of a large metal spoon, the oozing and frequently steaming chocolate seeps out. If you can patiently wait to watch the spectacle, its quite a watch. But by this time, most mortals with a sense of smell, sight and taste will indulge in the mixture of aromatic chocolate, the juxtaposition of hot lava against cold ice cream and a frozen fudge shell. The taste changes depending on the proportion of lava, cake mountain, or ice cream snow cap. Soon, it will become an intertwined concoction of tastes and textures, with caramel and chocolate rivers flowing amidst the molten lava, down and into the dense chocolate mountain, into swoops of scoopable mixtures that will test any foodie’s patience. Truly, the rate of consumption can never match the rate of gratification. So perhaps in this case, I am a fast food eater! (read twice, to understand what I really mean!)
Definitely a sign of perfection when, even after licking every sugar crusted morsel off the plate and leaving the spoon glistening in its tongue washed gleam, you’re still craving for more, despite having loosened your belt by at least one notch.
It never changes every time I try it, yet it always tastes better each time. What’s the secret?