Picasso Cafe, 3009 Paseo, is an easy place to be. That might not seem like an essential part of your optimal restaurant experience, but it was part of owner Shaun Fiaccones vision.
We wanted a place that felt comfortable, he said. The kind of place where wed want to hang out.
On that count, hes succeeded.
Whether its a room full of couches, a seat at the bar or one of the tables and booths, Picasso is a nice spot to park your butt. And while comfort and service might draw in some customers, the food needs to be pretty good, too.
It is. Im sorry, was I supposed to wait until the end and treat this like a cliffhanger? My mistake. Lets try to mystery this thing up again.
Good appetizers are pretty essential at a restaurant where people linger. Heavy entrées are fine and all, but you need something to pick at. And theres nothing I want to pick at more than the soft pretzel ($5). Tender dough, with just a little pull on the crust, lots of salt and that warm, soft center. The cheese for dipping is fine, but I really love the mustard: all spicy and sharp.
The ahi tuna appetizer ($10) is more substantial, but with a light Asian vinaigrette on top, its still easy on the stomach. And the risotto croquettes ($6) deary me, but they can give a gentleman the vapors. Crunchy and creamy and, when paired with the tomato sauce, full of really wonderful flavor.
As much as I like the tuna appetizer, Im even more taken with it as a sandwich ($10). Blackened ahi tuna on a bun, with thinly sliced carrots, cucumbers and a wasabi aioli. I tell my friends its on the menu because of me. My friends have responded by naming the sandwich The Douche Bag. But, seriously, its a great sandwich. Rather than lettuce and tomato, the carrot and cucumber complement the Asian flavors of the tuna and wasabi.
More fish? More fish. Fish and chips ($10), to be precise. Its tilapia, instead of cod, and the batter is made with delicious Old Style beer. More to the point, its fried perfectly and served with a caper rémoulade, which, you have correctly guessed, is delicious.
If youre looking for something a bit heavier, let me point you to the airline chicken ($13). Its a seared, skin-on chicken breast (with a bit of the wing, for presentation) topped with bacon-blue cheese cream. Its tender. Its big on flavor. Its the kind of thing you should order if you feel like youll be chopping wood or fighting Mothra.
right Margarita pizza
With a crowd? Get a pizza ($12). House-made dough and a nice selection of options. Cmon. A chorizo-jalapeño-onion pizza sounds pretty good. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
Vegetarian options are available, including quinoa tacos ($7) and vegetarian chili Frito pie ($9). I prefer the grilled cheese ($8), however, which is an ever-changing beast made with whatever cheeses are on hand for the cheese plate.
Its easy to be at Picasso Cafe.
Too easy, really. One quick drink usually becomes a couple of hours of laughing and talking and ordering food I didnt intend to get when I went in. But thats a good thing, and its one of the many reasons I keep going back.
Oklahoma Gazettes restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.
Photos by Mark Hancock