Picasso Cafe: hit or miss

by | June 24, 2010 | 23 Comments

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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.┬áSarah 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.

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This article was posted by Tim Wall on Thursday, June 24th, 2010. It is filed under:

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  • Cristela says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 12:18 pm   

    For me, Picasso is just okay, but to be fair I’ve only been there for dinner twice. It’s convenient for me considering I tend to be in the area for theatre & improv a lot (Ghostlight Theatre Club) and their late hours are helpful. I enjoyed the trio appetizer and my husband liked the italian sandwich (but I did not care for the roast beef). I would like to try the pizza.

  • Hope for evoloution says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 1:13 pm   

    I enjoy the idea of Picasso’s. I do long for some of the fantastic food that Galileo’s used to churn out. It’s in the neighborhood for me so it’s convenient. I do believe the service is better here than the old place. I just would like to see a little more creativity in their menu. Afterall, it is in an arts district. I’m sure they will evolve and improve with time! Next time you’re in get their chicken sandwich that is really good!

  • Anon Reader Dude says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 2:10 pm   

    I will check Picasso out soon. I miss Galileo in a very sentimental way, even though I know its food was not always great. It was just a fun, comfortable space.

    BTW, since the review mentioned the Paseo Grill a few blocks down the street — I think Paseo Grill is a very underrated restaurant in OKC. It’s a cool location with quite a few excellent dishes. Great patio. I like it for an upscale date.

  • Tim says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 2:12 pm   

    Anon – yeah, Paseo Grill is a nice place. We have a review in the works on it, but it hasn’t made it to publication just yet.

  • CPA Dan says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 11:05 pm   

    Are there going to be any new restaurants in the renovation going on across the street in the Paseo?

  • Dishin&Dishes says:
    June 25th, 2010 at 7:49 am   

    We found pretty much the same results at Picasso. My daughter got the BBQ Chicken Pizza. It was very good. I got a sandwich and it was mostly bread, and the bread seemed like one of those $.99 french loaves you can get at Walmart. We may try it again for one more shot. It seemed like it’s popularity was out on the patio with those who stopped by for a drink after work. We had the beignets when we went (the night before the Paseo Arts Festival). The menu was very limited that night so we weren’t able to get the full menu, but they were very good.

    Paseo Grill was named by Open Table as among the Top 50 in the nation! 2nd yr in a row! Word will get out about them. They’re fantastic!

  • Tim says:
    June 25th, 2010 at 7:39 pm   

    CPA Dan – I’m not sure, but I’d be interested to find out.

  • Michele says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 9:20 pm   

    I have been to Picasso quite a few times and have not been disappointed. I tend to get the same thing however, lobster bisque and the pan seared chicken has never let me down. I find that there dessert menu to be underwhelming. I am a creme brulee fanatic, but they do not offer.

    Sadly I tend to drive past Picasso many times to go to Paseo Grill, due to great service, menu and feel. I hope Picasso finds its legs and shows the creativity I think the owners and staff have.

  • Cristela says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 5:23 pm   

    @CPA Dan & Tim – I heard a rumor that there was going to be an Italian restaurant over there… but you know rumors…

  • D says:
    July 12th, 2010 at 8:42 am   

    I would have to agree, the food was OK, just not exceptional. The pork tenderloin was a little overcooked, but he vegetables were good. Glad we went, but probably will not return.

  • Christina says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 12:17 pm   

    I loved their burger…maybe I was just really hungry that day but it’s a burger I’ve been craving. I recommend getting truffle cream with your fries, if you do not get fries as an appetizer. It was really delicious.

    I have hopes this place will get better and better. Nothing will replace Galileo though, it was one of my favorite places.

  • okcfoodie says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 1:02 am   

    Excerpt from an email from Tim, the venerable founder of Eataroundokc:

    “Seriously, though, we are not professional foodies. We’re just people who like to try restaurants and talk about what we find. The biggest qualification is writing ability”

    Perhaps Tim should hire an editor. This site is laughable, and the editorial content irrelevant and uninformed. Anyone who takes this sight seriously should reexamine/consider the source.

  • Lacey Elaine Dillard says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 12:44 am   

    The food I’ve had, I’ve enjoyed, and the more carbs the better. My favorite activity is to just sit on the patio, cold pint in hand, enjoying one of those delicious pretzels and chatting with a few friends. Pizza usually tastes like “pizza” to me, and sandwiches come in and out of fashion, but a COOP and a good book/conversation can always satisfy. It’s great atmosphere and OKC needs more places like this!

    The waitstaff is friendly and service is prompt, but I judge it more from the perspective of a casual eatery rather than fine-dining. It’s the perfect middle-ground between Sauced and Paseo Grill.

    Maybe poor + chatty + refined taste = me? I’d say that reflects well on Picasso Cafe.

  • Tim says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 6:57 am   

    Lacey, I think you have made some great points here. Thanks for bringing in the social, “hang-out” aspect of Picasso, and your observation of Picasso as a middle ground between Sauced and Paseo Grill is very intriguing and astute. This is great stuff. Thanks again for your comments!

  • Jennifer says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 1:43 pm   

    I really like Picasso. I LOVE their grilled cheese. It constantly changes and they get import cheese from Mediterranean Deli. I actually loved the chorizo risotto and it is a shame they no longer have it on their “summer” menu. The pretzel is awesome (way better than Republic) and the mushroom appetizer was delicious. I had a friend with me who got the club sandwich and was really disappointed, but another had the chicken sandwich and said it was the best he had ever had. Overall, I really like the food and the drink/beer selection is great. I will definitely be going back soon.

  • Holley says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 8:12 am   

    I ate at Picasso’s before going to see OKC Improv Festival a few weeks ago (Hey contributor Cristela-awesome work!). I had eaten a big lunch, so I ordered an appetizer that consisted of mushrooms, cheese and flat bread. It was very good. If you like mushrooms and balsalmic, you will enjoy this.

    The adult beverages are also good.

  • Zombii says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 2:21 pm   

    Have I seriously not piped up on this review yet? It took me ages to finally get around to trying out Picasso when it opened, but when I did? Man, it’s hard to not go there more often. The pizza is amazing and the only thing I’ve ordered on my past few visits. They’re having a great happy hour special (monday-saturday?) of half price pizzas between 3 and 6. Perfect. I usually eat dinner at the old lady hour of 3:30-5pm so that fits perfectly within my schedule.

    The crust of the pizza is divine. I didn’t know it was pretzel crust until reading this review. Now it’s totally obvious in how it’s crunchy at the ends and this magical texture. The toppings are wonderful as well – with the prosciutto pizza being my favorite. My second favorite usually includes a build-your-own with some combination of jalape├▒os and chorizo. For $6 you can’t beat the deliciousness of the deal. Not even dominos (*shudder*) can compete with their happy hour deal. They’ve got two mediums for $6 each, and Picasso’s has a far superior pizza (about the same size) for the same money. Who are you going for when the craving hits? Be warned, I will knife you if you don’t pick the right answer. :)

  • Benjamin says:
    October 15th, 2010 at 10:21 am   

    Just went to Picasso’s yesterday night for a late night supper and what can I say. It was awesome! Love their late night half priced pizzas and the fact that they open till 2am! We had the BBQ Chicken, the Spinach, the Margherita, and a build-your-own. The BBQ Chicken was delicious but the best had to be the build-your-own. We had the garlic puree, chorizo, mushrooms, and lobster on it and it was one of the most amazing pizzas i ever had.

    I highly recommend this place if you’re a college student and want a cool place at night to get some food and to chill with friends!

  • Jenna says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 10:29 am   

    Tried Picasso’s this past Friday night. My husband and I thought it was hit or miss with the food. We started with the pretzel;which was as good as everyone says it; we also got the chopped salad; it was okay the lettuce was a little on the soggy side. I ordered the BBQ Chicken Pizza and it was delicous! My husband got the club sandwhich and a side of green beans; it was just not good. We did also enjoy the drink selection.

    The service was ok; took at least 5 minutes after we were seated before anyone greeted us.

    We gave it a 6 out of 10 rating and would probably not got back. We do enjoy the paseo location though!

  • dom says:
    February 14th, 2012 at 7:52 pm   

    I eat here a quite a bit because I have two friends that are vegans, and Picasso’s has several vegan options that they really enjoy. Both of them love dining there. Personally, I don’t find it to be anything special. The food is ok, but not especially good. I also find it to be overpriced. But like I said, my two friends love it.

  • Nicki says:
    August 15th, 2012 at 11:39 am   

    I think the only reason Picasso’s is popular is its location. The quality and portion-sizes of their food has been going downhill the last year or so. I think they believe their own hype too much. I only go now to have a beer outside and enjoy Paseo atmosphere. I won’t eat there anymore as you never know if you’ll end up with good or bad quality, and the staff don’t seem to care when you do mention the bad stuff.

  • Nicki says:
    August 15th, 2012 at 11:44 am   

    Notice how much better reviews were when they first opened? As I said, any quality they had is going downhill.

  • Kim says:
    June 26th, 2014 at 10:21 am   

    I’ve been to Picasso’s about 3 times between last June and Christmas, and the food was amazing every time. The lobster bisque alone is worth the drive for me (as I live in North OKC), but so far, everything I’ve tried, I’ve liked.
    Perhaps they’ve hit their stride?

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We wouldn't have tried it if we hadn't seen all the great reviews here!

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