It is difficult, almost impossible, to find authentic Mexican food in Delhi NCR. So when I hear that a new restaurant called Picante Mexican Grill has opened last week at DLF Cybercity, I can’t wait to try it out. To do that I have to find the right building in the maze that Cybercity is, and then go into the recesses of building 10C, where I eventually discover a spartanly done up, clean, functional, and friendly restaurant.
Young Akshay Mittal, an IIT alumnus and the proprietor, is there himself to greet diners and take them through the choices. As an MBA student at the University of Virginia, he had often had to struggle to find good vegetarian food. Till he discovered Chipotle, a US Mexican food chain which had an outlet near his campus. He loved the food, and the place became his regular haunt. That is when he, along with a friend who also was a fan of Chipotle, decided to introduce the concept of wholesome Mexican food in India.
Akshay takes me to the counter, behind which is the open kitchen, and explains the concept. It is a three step process. First, I have to choose the format—either a burrito roll, or naked burrito which is without the tortilla wrap, or tacos which are crispy or soft (like our rotis), or go light with a salad. Then, I need to decide the filling which determines the price. There is fajita (peppers and onions; Rs 130), paneer (added especially for Indian vegetarians, Rs 150), pollo blanco (white, traditional Mexican filling; Rs 150), pollo oscuro (spicier chicken; Rs 150), and lamb (Rs 170). Step three involves deciding on the toppings. Here I can take one or all, at no extra cost, from a huge choice ranging from beans, pico de gallo (like our kachumbar), three kinds of salsa, cheese and sour cream. A home-style guacamole is extra at Rs 25.
Okay, so this might sound confusing to the readers, but believe me, it is actually quite fun. What I end up creating for my lunch is a dish that is crunchy, creamy, meaty, and spicy—a kaleidoscope of tastes. I try the crisp taco combo, with lamb in one and the two varieties of chicken in the rest, with just about everything on it. And all three are delicious and fresh. Little wonder considering Picante makes each ingredient every two hours.
Next I try the caja (Spanish for box) menu. The veg Mexican gumbo (Rs 80), a stew with origins in southern Louisiana. Served with rice, this dish has a familiar yet exotic taste to it. The veg stew is thickened with the addition of okra (bhindi), which gives it a wholesome flavour and texture. The arroz con pollo (Rs 90) is grilled chicken in excitingly spicy gravy.
For dessert, I order arroz con leche (Rs 70), a typical and popular dessert served in households all over the Spanish world. I am pleasantly surprised to discover how similar it is to our own phirni. It is a small world, especially when it comes to Mexican and Indian foods.
Picante Mexican Grill is just the place to head to when you are in the mood for something other than the routine culinary experience. Also one that is light on both your stomach and your pocket.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 |Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 400 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Address: Building 10C, DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon | Phone: +91 9810770201
This review first appeared in Friday Gurgaon