First unveiled to the public on September 1st, Urban Eatery is the plush new food court located in the Eaton Centre. Congestion and pandemonium are part and parcel of the everyday Eaton Centre experience. Perhaps I am a bit agoraphobic because those traits are always enough to keep me away from this downtown shopping Mecca. But, upon learning of the $48 million (CAD) that was invested in this "re-vitalization" project (knowledge acquired via a somewhat aggressive advertising blitz), I was curious to see what that gargantuan sum of money looks like in brick and mortar.
The sleek, ultramodern design is a cut above the standard food court aesthetic. The absence of garbage receptacles and many disposable eating implements have an equally distinguishing effect. (Reusable utensils and plates, collection stations and an enormous dishwasher form part of the new waste minimisation system). But, what about the food? Shouldn't that be just as important as - if not more than - the fanfare?
I was in the mood for a burrito, so I opted for Mucho Burrito. As the only "Mexican food" purveyor at Urban Eatery, it represents a more fresh, less processed alternative to Taco Bell (the latter being a staple in North American mall food courts). While I was unaware of Mucho Burrito's existence until this visit, it is no embryonic enterprise: there are over three dozen locations across Canada (four of which are in Toronto).
Much like a Subway sandwich, at Mucho Burrito, burritos are constructed via an assembly line that is in full view of the customer. One first selects the size and type of tortilla (small or large, white or brown) and type of meat (beef, chicken, pork, fish or vegetarian). After a copious portion of rice is applied, one is then free to choose from an array of fillings: beans, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream and a few other sauces. The dear market price of avocado is perhaps responsible for the additional $1.29 Mucho Burrito charges for guacamole.
|Pequeño-sized Beef Barbacoa Burrito $7.99 + Guacamole $1.29 pre-tax|
After sales tax, my bill amounted to $10.49. While the burrito was noticeably heavy, beans and rice accounted for much of that weight. Indeed, the servings of beef (about two tablespoons worth), cheese (one teaspoon) and guacamole (one teaspoon) were obnoxiously scanty. Its bland flavours only compounded my disappointment.
Would I return to Mucho Burrito? No. Would I return to Urban Eatery? Absolutely.