The thought of venturing outside the confines of an airconditioned room is seldom entertained by anyone on a 40+ deg Celsius summer afternoon in Gurgaon. So, it was rather adventurous of us three, Aalok Wadhwa, Pawan Soni and me, to check out Picante Mexican Grill this Sunday. Aalok was quite impressed with their Mexican food from his past visits and wanted us to get a taste of it as well.
Located in Building 10 of DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, Picante (means spicy or hot) seemed to be the only restaurant open for lunch. Parking was a breeze since I was directed right to the parking lot when I told the guards at security where I was headed.
As I entered the restaurant to find Aalok and Pawan, the brightly lit interiors and minimalistic furniture caught my attention. The ambiance gave me a very cool feeling despite the heat outside. As I joined up with the duo, Pawan passed around some Nachos (Rs.40) and a spill proof glass of lemonade (Rs.40) he had very kindly pre-ordered for me. The nachos were fresh and crunchy while the lemonade was refreshing enough for me to order yet another one.
Aalok took the lead on ordering food and we scampered behind him to the self service counters where the smiling staffers stood in attendance. As I checked out their menu board, I found their prices to be quite reasonable overall.
We zeroed on a Lamb Salad (Rs.170) and a portion of Lamb Tacos (Rs.170) to start with which were created right in front of us. Filled differently, but with an array of beans, rice, salsa, lettuce, cheese and sour cream, both the dishes were delightful to the eyes. Did I say they looked absolutely fresh? Well, yes they did and tasted so. When three foodies eat and all you can hear is “crunch, munch, crunch, munch, crunch, munch”, you know that the food is an instant hit. The first experience was as much so.
The next round of “Caja” (Pronounced: ‘Caha’) course yet again freshly prepared comprised of a Mexican Gumbo (a vegetable stew with okra on lime cilantro rice; Rs.80) and an Aaroz Con Pollo (a spicy sauce with grilled chicken on lime cilantro rice; Rs.90). To both of these we added a side order of Pico de Gallo (or light salsa) and Crushed Nachos (both for Rs.20). Our general opinion was that these two numbers were not as “hot” as they could have been. Maybe the recipe had been tweaked a bit since the flavours did taste a bit desi. Aalok tried a quick fix of adding some hot salsa to both the dishes upon which the flavours corrected a bit. But a misfire happened again with a platter of Quesadillas (Rs.70) which tasted like paranthas stuffed with cheese and rajma (red kidney beans).
Aalok had been blown away by their Mexican Gumbo in the past and didn’t seem quite happy about it this time. He cross examined the youngster manning the cashier’s till about what had changed but wasn’t able to find much.
Onwards, we asked for the desserts and were again disappointed by a summarised no to all three options listed.
Overall the visit was a mixed bag that started with awesome salad and tacos and trended downwards with a disappointing “Caja” course, the Quesadillas and nonexistent desserts. So, if you want a safe trip, stay with the salads and tacos or even burritos, since their preps are similar. The nutritious portions at Picante are huge and one dish is quite filing for one person. Down them with some lemonade and you are home safe.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 3.0 | Ambiance: 3.5 | Service: 4.0 |Overall: 3.5
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
– Sumit Malhotra