Luck, by chance
Dinner on two different days at Piso 16 resulted in differing experiences. If this place wants the drink-cum-bite crowd in, it has to maintain consistency, says Saimi Sattar
The view is spectacular. Perched as I am on a more comfortable version of a bar stool. I am on the 16th floor and have a bird’s eye view of the South Delhi skyline. Lights are spread out and are twinkling, almost replicating the sky on a clear night, not that it happens any longer in Delhi. Just across the road, I can see the metro rush past but sitting high above, even the mundane appears romantic.
I am at Piso 16, a European cuisine restaurant, which opened a little over two- and-a-half months ago at Nehru Place. It offers a combination of seating, comfortable sofas, which are placed in the inside spaces and high benches placed next to the windows. It also houses an experimental cocktail den separated from the rest of the restaurant. Go for their shrubs, refreshing after a sultry day.
Incidentally, Piso is the Spanish term for the 16th floor, though the name would then mean 16 16, but these small quibbles apart, the restaurant looks like just the place for business meetings (given that it is surrounded by offices) or an after office hours place to catch up with friends. Chef Agnibh Mudi has crafted a menu that has Western favourites done in the classical manner. And since continental is a cuisine that I am partial to, I was more than raring to go. First up was a mushroom puff, which had us singing the praise of the pastry chef. Light, fluffy and warm, we finished it in no time.
The first of the starters that landed up was Baked brie and since I am quite addicted to cheese in all forms, this had me in raptures. It was baked, the top had caramelised just a bit and the centre was soft and gooey like a jelly — and for sometime I was left a little speechless because of the immaculate burst of flavours. The salty cheese was soft, buttery and with absolutely clean flavours. The roasted beets and the poached plum on the side added a sweetness to the concoction which was delectable to say the least. But a couple of days later, when we dived in expecting gooey comforts, the brie was rubbery. Making a baked brie may be a simple toss in the oven with some kind of drizzled topping or wrapping it in puff pastry. But you have to be particular about the rind and the creamy component and texture. A slight mishap and the dish collapses.
Their Prawns and Calamari, with basil, rosemary and cherry potatoes, scored high on the taste index. The prawns were perfectly cooked, and anyone who knows how to make these is aware how quickly well-done turns to chewy. The flavours here were light — nothing overpowering the other.
Orange chicken skewers with peanut dip, which looked like satay, was up next. However, this is one dish which disappointed. It was bland and the orange infusion did not add much to the dish. Maybe it just didn’t blend in.
For the main course, the vegetarian fare walked away with the applause. And this is a trend which I have noticed often, that the vegetables are stealing a march over the meats so much so that even hardcore carnivores have been forced to stand up and take note. The Kale and Mushroom roulade with its varied textures and distinct flavour was the highlight, envelopingly fulsome, in no small part aided by the lusciously infused mushroom. The second dish was Lamb Corsica, pulled lamb shoulder served with mash, carrots and peppery juice. The flavours here were robust and the lamb succulent. The Fillet of the day served with grilled artichoke, grilled polenta, cream and caper sauce, skirted around the familiar, though the artichoke crisp made for a great lift. However, I’ll repeat that it was the vegetarian which was the star of the main course.
For all its high points, one thing that needs to be said about Piso 16 is that the quality is a bit inconsistent. Also though they call themselves a fine diner, the menu is not really experimental but goes by the tried and the tested. The fare from the bakery was average as well and did not score high on the taste meter. Good, but sometimes with a catch.
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