Piquing renewed interest in MEXICO

Looking dressed for success, an old Bangkok favourite is back with a reworked style and menu, bringing Senor Pico bursting back onto the scene with renewed gusto.

Putting the sexy back into a tired old Senor Pico, who let's face it, had started to look a little like grandpa Pico, was not something to be taken lightly by The Rembrandt Hotel, on Sukhumvit Soi 18, Bangkok. This multi-award-winning restaurant, although still serving up great food, was in need of a renovation and a look to bring it up to par with the deluge of newer Mexican restaurants, encroaching on Bangkok.

So serious was The Rembrandt about updating Senor Pico that they invested over 30 million baht into the venture, and the old man received some nips, tucks and total facelift, to becompletely rejuvenated into an attractive and vibrant contemporary location for south of the border eats and drinks. For all intents and purposes, Senor Pico could well be a brand new venue, as only the name and location remain the same - even the logo has been made-over and the signature man in the sombrero is looking pretty gangster! The restaurant is entirely rethought, for modern Mexican cuisine and a lively tequila bar.

There is a whole new range of furniture and fittings, with recessed backlit sombrero-shaped decorative alcoves next to diner-style booths either side of a larger dancefloor, facing the stage, where the original trusty Cuban band 'Facinaci{aac}on' still plays nightly, except on Mondays. There is a different layout of the main dining tables, which can be easily adapted to larger and smaller parties and celebrations, plus a new bar located next to the entrance with high bar stools, for those looking to work their way through the extensive tequila and cocktail menu. Be warned, however, that this ought to take a number of repeat visits, since they have a colossal 50 different tequila options and many types of margaritas, as well as mojitos and the like. Another convenient feature is the direct access to the open terrace too.

Along with the new fittings, fixtures and finishes, ceiling de{aac}cor and upgraded sound and lighting system, the food and drinks also come served in a whole new set of crockery and glasses. The colourful food contrasts beautifully against the white plates and the glasses will have you believing you may have already had one too many, even if you're just drinking virgin cocktails! The long glasses and short tumblers are all playfully set to 10 degree angles and as you first place them down with a confused look on your face, the wait-staff, decked out in their new uniforms, with a big grin, ask: "Are you drunk already?"

If you want a level glass, then opt for one of the delicious fruit or coconut margaritas (260THB) on offer, with or without alcohol. A must-try is the El Hacienda Margarita, with 'El Jimador 100% de Agave Reposado', soured with fresh lime and sweetened with Cointreau (250THB). A fun favourite is sure to be the El Grande Margarita, where your preferred flavour comes in a gigantic long-stem cocktail glass for 3-4 people to share.

Saving the best for last, Senor Pico has a brand new Mexican Chef Fernando Reyes Barba, since the beginning of November. Chef Fernando is a very friendly, thick-accented smiling addition to the Senor Pico team, and has come up with a new menu, befitting a more contemporary eatery.

The touch of authenticity he adds does not disappoint, as his menu is bursting with flavour. Relaunched late November, another new feature of Senor Pico is the open show-kitchen, where chef and his team are hard at work, packing your dishes with fabulous Mexican herbs, spices and chillis. Chef Fernando has been sourcing the right ingredients to complement his combinations, and also promises changing specials, in addition to the regular menu, for more delights from his culinary arsenal to carry the Senor Pico brand well into the future.

With everything on the menu sounding delicious, you will need a few pointers of what to try on your first time round, as it simply is not humanly possible to taste everything in one visit. For culinary showmanship, be sure to order the 'Guacamole en Molcajete', freshly prepared tableside and served with fresh corn tortillas (250 THB). The chefs are fast, so pay attention if you want to pick up tips, to recreate this at home. For another tasty appetiser, select the 'Pinchos De Camarones', which translates to skewered grilled prawns topped with chopped garlic, coriander and jalapenos (395THB), or to try a little of many, there is also the 'Fiesta de Botanas', presenting the cheese quesadilla, buffalo chicken wings, beef taquitos, bolas de queso con chiles andguacamole (595 THB). This is ideal for the indecisive or if your eyes are bigger than your belly, but make sure you share!

Remember the mains are coming, and you should definitely take a gander at the 'Enchiladas Suizas de Pollo', shredded chicken-filled corn tortillas, baked in a roasted tomatillo and jalapeno salsa, topped with sour cream, cheese, onions and cilantro (350THB). The 'Burrito de Langosta', a large flour tortilla filled with grilled rock lobster, refried black beans and herb-marinated green rice (595THB), is not for the small appetite, but so delectable that you'll doggy-bag any leftovers you may not be able to finish. Prawn Tacos(450 THB) are a lighter option, with a choice of soft flour or corn tortillas, onions, cilantro and salsa. Should you prefer your meat just red, then all of the above come with different fillings, and the 'Espetadas' are made with 120g of grain-fed US sirloin (650 THB). This has a Latin-style garlic, salt and bay leaf rub, cooked over a char-grill and carved tableside. However,if you have to have it all again, then definitely opt for the 'Fajitas Supreme', beef, chicken and prawns are served with pico de gallo, refried pinto beans and flour tortillas (595 THB). Vegetarians need not go hungry either, as there are plenty of other selections, with cheese, tomatoes, roasted mushrooms or grilled vegetables.

Whatever you do, though, do make room for dessert. There are plenty of flavours of homemade ice cream and sorbet, as well as a 'Flan de Coco', served with pineapple sabayon and pineapple crisp (195THB). No sense of dessert guilt? Then try the 'Helado Frito', deep-fried ice cream, coated in cinnamon cornflakes, banana salsa and dowsed with a Kahlua chocolate sauce (195 THB). My top pick for dessert has to be the flourless chocolate truffle cake, infused with chilliancho (195THB), 'Pastel de Chocolate y Chile Ancho'. Chef created this particular dessert when trying to come up with a sweet treat for his food-picky daughter, and it was a big hit with her, as it will be for any self-respecting chocolate lover.

Senor Pico is back with a vengeance and is open daily on the first floor of the Rembrandt Hotel, from 5pm - 1am. Reservations can be made on 02 261 7100 ext. 7550
SENOR PICO. Rembrandt Hotel & Towers. 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18.

About the author

Writer: Nikki Busuttil
Position: Writer