Picasso Cafe: hit or miss
Picasso Cafe is located at 3009 Paseo in Oklahoma City (map). They are open Monday through Wednesday 11am to 10pm, Thursday through Saturday 11am to 1am and Sunday for brunch from 10:30am to 2:30am. Call them at 405.602.2002 or visit their website.
Like the neighborhood in which it resides, Picasso Cafe in the Paseo district is both quirky and intriguing. Judging by the polished, gleaming presence on its website where it bills itself as “Oklahoma City’s premier dining establishment,” Picasso Cafe appears to be shooting for a higher-end dining experience, yet on our visit we found Picasso to still be a little rough around the edges.
Picasso Cafe sits in the space previously occupied by Galileo’s, along the colorful, curved segment of Paseo Drive spanning from NW 30th to Walker. Inside, the new ownership has taken some steps to polish up the interior, but one still feels the rough-hewn, shabby-chic influence characteristic of the previous tenant in this space. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was a little unexpected. Based on what I had seen on their website, I expected Picasso to be a little more polished in its interior, more along the lines of Paseo Grill down the street.
The food we sampled at Picasso was hit or miss. There were three of us dining on our visit, so we got to try a good variety of items. While some things were actually very, very good, other dishes were unimpressive.
Let’s start with the very, very good. According to our server, every morning the Picasso team comes in and makes up a big fresh batch of dough that I consider to be quite magical. They then use this dough in a variety of their menu offerings including the handmade pretzel appetizer ($3), the crust of their handmade pizzas ($10-12), and a new dessert item which was sort of like a tubular beignet ($5). This dessert item wasn’t yet on the menu and I don’t think it had an official name yet.
Everything made out of this dough is truly very good. The pretzel had a wonderful, crispy exterior and a soft, chewy interior. Accompanied by some spicy mustard and a blue cheese sauce for dipping, this simple appetizer pretty much makes the whole trip to Picasso worth it.
Likewise, the pizza crust, also made from the magic dough, was perfection. Not too thick, not too thin. The pizzas are a good size making a great value as you could easily split one between a couple of people. Sarah chose the barbeque chicken pizza ($12), and she claimed “it rocked.” Her full description follows:
“Good crust, tangy sauce, hand-pulled chicken (could have used a few more chunks of this), red onion slices and thinly sliced, fresh jalapeno to give it just the right kick. I was full after three of the eight pieces, so it was a good thing Tim and Sam were there to clean the plate.”
Sarah also had a salad with her meal. The Caesar is the only salad they offer in two sizes ($4/$6), so it was the natural choice for a side. But as she describes it, “this was one of the most bland, underwhelming Caesars I think I’ve ever had. The lettuce looked like the bagged, supermarket variety and I couldn’t tell if there was dressing or not.” I tried some of Sarah’s salad and have to agree on this assessment.
The dishes Sam and I tried also underwhelmed. Sam chose the Chorizo Sausage and Mushroom Risotto ($10) and here’s what he had to say:
“When the server placed the big round bowl in front of me, I looked inside expecting a nice helping of food and a nice presentation. What I found instead was a disappointing portion of risotto topped with chunks of chorizo with yellow sausage grease pooling around the edges of the bowl.
Now, I have a big appetite, but still, after eating all of my food, I had to eat half of Sarah’s pizza in order to feel satisfied. Presentation also could have been improved. If the dish had some chopped green onions to add some color and cut a bit of the oiliness of the greasy chorizo I think that would’ve been a nice touch.”
As for me, I ordered the hamburger. I know it sounds so plain, but the server told me it was his favorite sandwich on the menu. Plus, it sounded so good with bleu cheese, carmelized onion and aioli. The toppings were very good, and I thought it was a good value at $8 including a side of fries or vegetables. But the problem was the meat, which came out cooked beyond well-done, dry, tough, and with a very charred exterior. I may have caught them on an off day so I would try this one again because everything else about the burger was good.
So, our experience at Picasso was hit or miss. There are some things we really like and those things by themselves are enough to warrant a trip out here. Plus, there are sure to be lots of good things on the menu that we didn’t try. Still, the fact that about half of our choices fell short makes it less likely I’ll be making Picasso a regular stop.
Please let us know what you think about Picasso in the comments.