One Pico has been around for some time and to be honest I often wondered how I had survived so long without dining there. On Wednesday evening last I set out to right the wrongs and made way for One Pico with a regular dining friend of mine.
The dining room is dimly lit but comfortable and would suit business diners, romantic meals and expense peddling politicians alike. It was a little quiet and I was given the option of two tables and had immediate regrets for taking the one next the window as I felt it was a little cold but I did warm to the task as the night went on and I was warmed by the conversation.
We were given the option of two menus, an A La Carte and an abridged version of this in the form of an Evening Dinner Menu which at first pass looked appealing but once you had a look at the surcharges (€10 for the steak among others for example) it quickly became apparent that this menu was little more than a distraction for the diner and an exercise in box ticking by the restaurant manger who could sit back and tell himself how he was catering for the masses and the current economic climate by offering a reduced price evening menu.
The menu to its credit looked excellent and had plenty of choice - there would be little excuse for going hungry if dining here. The wine list was extensive and the first 5 stars of the evening go to the Sommelier who had an excellent manner and was very pleased to both engage with us and help us along especially when it came to desert wine. I have to say that this guy outstrips the Sommelier' in some of the other top tier restaurants around town. At this point it is worth saying that we opted for a South African Shiraz, Vergelegen, at €54 a bottle. I have drunk vast quantities of SA red and I don't honestly know how I missed this one as it was all quality and I won't delay long in stocking my shelf with some.
To start I had Quail which was two pieces of quail along with a seared piece of Foie Gras served with raisins and walnuts - this was a surprise for me. I didn't really know what to expect here and both the presentation and quality of food was exceptional to the point of where I was taken aback but I suppose at €19 I was entitled to be surprised. My dining partner opted for the Langoustine Risotto (€17.50) which again looked excellent and got rave reviews.
For main the plate opposite me was Beef (€38) which without further inquisition on my part looked excellent and was reported to be the same. I opted for the Rare Breed Suckling Pig (€32) - I am not sure how rare the breed was but this was spectacular. Those seeking confirmation of how good a pig can be to us at the dining table should seek reference from Homer Simpson - he understands! This was an exceptionally well presented dish that included - Rack, Cheek, Trotter and more. The flavor was exceptional as was the presentation - there was plenty in it but I could have ordered the same again for desert. At the price I would have to classify it as one of the better value mains I have had. Sides were extra (€3.95 ea) and we went for Veg and Boiled baby potatoes and fine beans - the veg and potatoes were just grand and the beans didn't arrive.
Onto desert and at €12 a pop I ordered Valhrona Chocolate Cremeux and across the table I witnessed an appealing Chocolate Fondant being put away without the assailant coming up for air. My dessert was just ok - nothing objectionable but nothing to wow me either - I certainly don't feel that this course did either of the first two courses any justice.
I finished the bottle of red while the partner in crime engaged with the Somellier to order a sweet wine. I cant tell you how much the sweet wine cost us as when I look now at the receipt I see that we were not charged for it. Running good and I am momentarily feeling bad until I look below and see Coffee - more on this later. Now I asked what type of tea they had, and I was told they had tea - Aha! I can see that on the menu, but do you serve teabags in a pot in the name of tea or do you serve tea? They don't serve tea, but you can have teabags and hot water - I don't know how much the tea was but if is benchmarked against the price of my double espresso then I guess the tea is in the region of €4 a pop - if you want to charge this much for it you got to turn it into a luxury product - go buy some Assam, Darjeeling, Mint, Green and more besides and let the customer feel like they haven't been completely mugged. Speaking of muggings - One Pico failed the key test in the "take the pee out of your customer 'ometer" - simply, they charge €3.95 for a double espresso - have you no shame?
The total bill minus the mistakenly omitted glass of sweet was €196. There were some definite highlights but I felt they were let down in spots also. The service went without notice which I typically take to mean that it was good. On balance I would go back again and probably soon, it is verging on Michelin class but certain items need to be addressed before it could get there. I suspect if they have been around as long as they have that they probably don't have aspirations for a star as the necessary improvements seem somewhat obvious, perhaps they are instead happy to suckle at the breast of the aforementioned business diners and politicians.
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