Just like in the Mediterranean, dine and drink in the open…Prego Alfresco- that’s how the invite read for the bloggers meet to unveil Prego Alfresco.We were promised open skies, pleasant weather, view of pristine blue waters and that’s exactly what we got on the opening night.
Mr Dietmar, General Manager very warmly greeted us all with a glass of sparkling wine from Sula and went on to explain the details that went in setting up the new diner, like the canopies and the electric blue lighting. The canopies do look very charming indeed and would make dining out even in the afternoons pleasurable. He also went on to explain that there will be a Single Malt & Cigar Lounge that would feature exclusive single malts, cigars along with serving exclusive grills at the venue.
After a brief welcome from the head Chef Steffan, we were presented the set menu options for the evening. My table for the evening was a mix of vegetarians and non-vegetarians so I got a chance to sample all the dishes of the evening.
An amuse-bouche, a complimentary bite-sized appetizer of roasted bell pepper and goat cheese pinwheel was served.
Next up was the Mezze platter that had an assortment of flat-breads and dips. The flat-breads were Khubus, Za’atar spiced one and a sweet-ish one. The dips were olive tapenade, tomato and parmesan dip and the mushroom dip with truffle oil. The mushroom dip was very delicious.
For the starters all the non-veggies chose the Tuna Salad, while the vegetarians only had one option- Mediterranean Antipasto. The antipasto platter had chili marinated olive, caramelized fig, pickled grape,tomato feta salad, baked artichoke, olive tapenade and crunchy ciabatta. Nothing that evening looked more “Mediterranean” than the antipasto!
My starter for the evening arrived while I was relishing the spicy pickled grape and boy! what an antithesis to the antipasto platter. The wafer thin sliced smoked tuna was very nice I must say. But considering how amazing the tuna tasted, the accompaniments (steamed asparagus, mix lettuce & chunky guacamole) and the presentation left a lot to be desired. The guacamole was really well made but didn’t quite gel with the asparagus or the lettuce. In my humble opinion, the same dish presented on a white plate with just the tuna and the guacamole would have been much better.
For the mains, again, the only veg option was the Vegetable Timbale – lemon couscous stalk, chickpea, Mediterranean vegetable. My dislike for chickpea stopped me from sampling the dish in its entirety, but the couscous could do with a little more lemon-y flavor. And the portion size didn’t quite look enough.
The two non-veg mains were Mediterranean Lamb Pie (oven-baked layered eggplant,lamb ragout, bechamel, parmesan) and Lemon Chicken (lemon oregano grilled chicken, balsamic glazed potato & spinach).
The portion of Lamb Pie received on our table had the eggplant under-cooked and the pie didn’t cut through as smooth as I would have liked. The ragout tasted quite good and the potato chips on top looked good. But the uncooked eggplant let this dish down.
The dish that totally didn’t live up to my expectations was the lemon chicken – dry, under-cooked chicken that lacked any flavour. I was struggling to cut through the chicken and right away knew that it was going to be chewy. I could barely take a bite and washed it off with a big sip of wine. The chef looking at my almost untouched dish asked if there was a problem and duly took note of our feedback. He asked the staff to get extra sauce which didn’t help because the sauce itself lacked any flavour and the chicken was just not edible. Later on, the head chef was gracious, came to our table and accepted that the chicken indeed was not well done. I appreciate that a lot.
While we were waiting for our desserts, we were handed over a print out of the dishes they plan to have at the alfresco and their pricing. Having dined at Prego on various occasion, I know the place is on the pricier side and surely the new alfresco is in that range. But if I had to pay 1000 bucks for the chicken dish I won’t have been happy.
The dessert platter had Phyllo wrap (sweet phyllo pastry, chopped nut, honey,lemon) and Bougasta (rolled layered pastry, semolina custard, cheese). The Bougatsa was really yummy – smooth semolina custard wrapped in crispy, flaky phyllo. The Phyllo wrap aka Baklava was a bit too sweet for my taste.
No doubt, the outdoor setup is lovely but the food needs to be improved on. None of the dishes from the entire tasting session stood out and they really need to get their presentation right. Prego Alfresco needs to up their ante.