Picante Ristorante is situated on Bhulabhai Desai Road, a short walk from the Mahalaxmi Temple. Little wonder restaurants on this strip advertise ‘pure vegetarian’ meals. A large signboard in yellow and blue ensures it’s easy to spot our latest destination for review. But we were unsure if this was the right address since the all-glass swanky structure appeared uninhabited. Egged on by regular patrons, we entered the little over a-month-old restaurant.
Courteous staff led us to a corner table as upbeat Mexican tunes played in the background. As we waited for half an hour for a colleague to join us, not once did the staff rush us for our orders. The ambiance was young with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics adorning the walls. The bar area, made from a series of squares had spaces in its geometrical frame to display wine bottles, adding to its funky feel.
The menu offers appetisers, soups, salads, mains, side orders, pizzas, pastas, desserts and mocktails. Most items come with a little asterisk to denote that they can be made into a Jain-friendly preparation as well. The bar will be functional next month with plans to serve wines and beers.
The mocktails included the usual suspects including Frozen Margarita, Mojito, Pinacolada. We opted for the Hazel High (Rs 175) — a combination of pineapple, orange, a hint of mango, and hazel nut syrup. The refreshing drink tasted good and hazel nut hit the palate in the form of a sweet after taste. The food menu, divided into various sections, mostly offers staples in Mexican and Italian fare.
We started with the Chimichangas (Rs 295), which for the uninitiated is a fried burrito stuffed with vegetables. The server brings forth a variety of sauces for the table, naming each as he places them. In less than 15 minutes, the appetisers were served piping hot with a coating of salsa and dollops of sour cream. The Chimichangas were lightly spiced, just as we like it, and filled with an abundance of vegetables. Though an appetiser, it could serve as a meal for one.
The service was speedy, leaving minutes between courses. For the mains, we switched to Italian. We opted for the Lasagna Campania pasta (Rs 425). Doused in tomato sauce and white, creamy sauce, the Lasagna was rich, bringing with it that satiated feel typical of a ghee-laden Gujarati meal, which leaves a sweet after taste. But the excess sauce, combined with the finely- chopped vegetables, robbed the flavours of the vegetables.
Next, we ordered the Fajitas (Rs 425) that arrived with the expected drama of veggies on a sizzling pan, a side of rice, a side of soft tortillas, beans, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. As we fill ed up the tortilla with the vegetables, we wished they had been bite-sized instead of large chunks. We tasted the vegetables individually and realised that they been flavoured with Indian spices. The guacamole was too sour for our liking; we wished they could’ve offered a closer fit to arroz than basmati.
We went with the servers’ recommendation for dessert; The Cookie (Rs 295) that would take 25 minutes to bake (it helped given the many courses we had downed). The freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie came topped with chocolate sauce and a side helping of vanilla ice cream served on a pan. Soft and fresh, the cookie was a tad salty but it was complimented with the sauce and ice cream.