THE DISH: A visit to Spain... but in Kenya - Daily Nation

THE DISH: A visit to Spain... but in Kenya

Saturday June 30 2018

The delectable ham cheese and rocket pizza from Picazzo restaurant, at The Hub in Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The delectable ham cheese and rocket pizza from Picazzo restaurant, at The Hub in Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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I do wish that title could have just stopped at a visit to Spain, but Spain is not somewhere I have been just yet. Give me time to make it happen, it's on my bucket list.

Because aside from Spanish men, culture and architecture – what's not to like about Spanish foods? Unless you're one of those weird people who doesn't like flavour in their food, in which case I can't help you.

One of my favourite joints to visit for Latin American/Spanish cuisine is Picazzo, at The Hub. I like the ambience of the inner seating area, because in this cold season sitting outside is, quite simply, a rumour. As I have learned from my last visit at Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, perhaps it is fair to give restaurants three chances before you rule them out completely – and if that is the case, then I have quite a couple of restaurants to go to again. I had cancelled them after one or two bad experiences. Go figure.

Picazzo, however, I have been to at least three times, if I am not wrong. I went when they first opened, when they were still young and eager to please, hehe. That's the first time I had their paella, which comes in a huge portion as it's meant for two, and a taste of their delicious slow-cooked ribs.

Potatoes from a disappointing brunch - though they were not disappointing at all. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Potatoes from a disappointing brunch - though they were not disappointing at all. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The first time I ate at Picazzo I was completely sold. The ribs fell away at the touch of my hand, and the paella, though a bit salty for my taste, was very, very good – I even made a grand declaration about the best paella in Nairobi, or something like that, for that price especially.

Starting on a high means nowhere to go but back down, sometimes, because the next time I visited, I was confused as to why I had put it in the place of honour I had before.

First of all, the service was much slower than I was used to, and there was something about the atmosphere that was missing. For lack of a better description, the atmosphere wasn't as warm and cosy as I thought it was going to be, perhaps because I was sitting outside. Also, the chairs outside seemed a little run down to me, if possible, they should do something about that.

We had gone for their salsa night, which had not started by the time I was leaving at about 9pm – in fact, what happened was that there was a DJ there who was very good, actually, but the DJ is not who we came for.

So we left having not salsaed at all. I did get to taste their cocktails though, and a great ham and rocket pizza. They were ok, though the people I was with said they weren't as good as the last time they were there.

The third time was a few weeks ago, and I'm sad to report that not much has changed. We went for their much advertised brunch for a birthday for a friend, and they need to do more market research as to what a brunch in Nairobi should entail.

Picazzo's on-offer sangria from brunch. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Picazzo's on-offer sangria from brunch. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The first complaint I heard, which was the same as the last time, was the cocktails were, again, not as good as the last time the people I was with were there. If they've changed the bartender, it isn't working.

Then, the food being offered at the buffet was limited in range – and cold! – and brunch was supposed to end at 2/3pm.

Fortunately, the service had improved, in my view, but not the ambience. They had really tasty potatoes, but that was about it.

After listening to the naysayers, and sampling one or two tasty things (the potatoes, and grilled fish), I decided to just stick to what I know, which is the ham and rocket pizza. That was great. It comes as an 8-slice slab, and is topped with cherry tomatoes. I wish they would put more traditional tomato sauce on the pizza, however.

My friend had the ribs. She says they were good, but I don't think they were as good as the first time. Is anything ever as good as the first time?

I don't know if I am being too hard on Picazzo because I'm nostalgic about its glory days, but surely one of the basic foundations of an eatery is consistency. I guess we'll find out the fourth time I go there...