The newest restaurant buzz in Dhanmondi right now is “Cilantro”. Even being situated in a tiny corner between two bigger brands of restaurants, it has picked up quite a name in the last three months. Due to the lack of new ventures in Dhanmondi, this restaurant is supposed to be a fresh new delight to the sore taste buds. But how much it is living up to the expectation is highly debatable.
A initial fresh aspect about this restaurant is that, it is owned by four friends since high school. Two of them have even had a Culinary training from abroad. For all of them to start this restaurant truly makes it a youthful and friendly venture.
Cilantro has a impressively splendid decor; it has a very innovative and rustic feel to it. They have taken the everyday things around us such as bricks, recycled glass jars, wood etc. and placed them with a very innovative twist- incorporating all these into a sophisticated & cohesive decor piece. It is a very artsy place for taking pictures with friends. At night, the wood and rock restaurant seems to gleam with tiny fireflies in jars, it truly feels beautiful and serene.
CIlantro is quite small yet they have smartly managed to create various sitting arrangements- the diner like booths, a casual sitting on the floor lounge and a mini outdoor option for Smokers. For the smoker arrangement a drawback is that “Cilantro” is not air conditioned but it has fans to cover for that.
CIlantro’s menu is a modern fusion. Cilantros menu for now is small; it is mainly divided in two sections- Drinks and Food. Its main theme of savory menu is highly based on contemporary Mexican and Thai cuisine but the drinks selection is quite experimental.
Drinks: Cilantro along with the usual fizzy drinks and warm beverages have an array of Mocktails. Though the Mocktails have quite a diverse range from Harvey to Virgin Bloody Mary. Overall the Mocktail taste profile is a disappointment. A drink which highly disappointed me was Harvey (yes I ordered it thinking of “Harvey Specter” from Suits) which is basically strawberry ice cream milkshake. Why a disappointment you ask me? Because you do not want to have ice cream shake with approximately Tk. 225 ( excluding 15% vat & 10% service charge). Another drink I remember to taste is Cilantro’s Banana Fresa- it is a disaster. Though promised to serve a creamy strawberry & banana delight, you just end up with a strawberry-gone-wrong-stale-yogurt mess. Among all the drinks, Cilantro’s Pink Lemonade was the only highlight.
Food : Cilantro for now only serves set menus for lunch and the general menu after 5 pm. They basically have only 3 set menus: Green curry with rice, Fettuccine Bolognese and Fried rice with Fried Chicken- all including drinks at Tk. 299++. And for all the 3 dishes I have only one criticism- They are Bland. Cilantro faces a very bad problem to balance flavor in its dishes. The three lunch sets which I tried, it either seemed to have too much salt or none at all and the harmony of the spices were totally off balance. For me the present Lunch set menu is a big No! No!
Coming to the general menu- its Tapas (appetizers) selection is quite “yum”. The Tortillas & Salsa and Mushrooms are really lip smacking delicious. Cilantro’s nachos won’t disappoint you either, though it is supposed to be crispy and not soaked with salsa juice- if you are not so choosy you will find the taste quite yum.
Next the platters, Cilantro has two platters- Mezze and Thai. Cilantro’s platters make you feel confused- Their sauces and sidelines are great esp. garlic aioli, but the platters hero the skewers are not. The skewers again face its usual problem poorly seasoned and lacks balance of flavor. But out of all- the biggest disappointed is the food portion on the platter to the price you pay for it. For Tk. 575 (excluding 15% vat & 10% service charge), the amount of food is really less.
If we come to the main dishes of the general menu, I would say half their dishes are disappointing. Souvlaki Merida (Chicken skewers with rice) and Enchiladas (They weren’t even authentic enough) are heavily heart breaking on taste. On the other hand Beef Ossobucca was a delight.
Cilantro needs to update their desserts on menu, even though on their Facebook page- I saw an array of desserts, I couldn’t find them over there.
Cilantro has a beautiful decor: their sense of space, style and comfort totally makes the restaurant experience happy but their food doesn’t hit the mark. Especially if you are paying that much, the food needs to be THAT good. Cilantro maybe a new venture and are facing starting drawbacks, but it is no excuse to not serve delicious food at the value they are charging. For me to confirm this point I took 5 very different friends there and they all came to the same conclusion- they don’t want to go to Cilantro again. Even though loving the place, if the food isn’t great. It is just a huge downer.
Last words, you can check out the place yourself if you go for the ambience, but for the food I would not recommend it.