There was much interest, then, when after some 20 years of service, the restaurant was officially rebranded at the end of January due to a corporate reshuffle outside of the hotel’s control (the Señor Pico’s brand, launched in the States, is currently changing hands). What would this mean for The Rembrandt’s much-loved restaurant? Would its authenticity crumble faster than an overcooked nacho?
The reality is, there’s no need to worry at all.
“Under our new name we’ve added, and plan to add, even more traditional Mexican dishes to the menu,” says the restaurant’s gregarious chef, Carlos Bravo, a Mexico City native. “In fact, it’s really a lot of fun to be here right now. We’ve essentially taken what we had and made it even better.”
There’s an almost tangible sense of excitement at this ‘new’ restaurant. From the genuine, colourful and intricate ‘Day of the Dead’ bunting that’s been strung up along the ceiling, to the addition of vibrant paintings and fairy lights in the shape of the Mexican flag, to a newly tooled a la carte menu featuring roughly 70 percent Mexican food and 30 percent Tex-Mex, to even a ‘dancing’ sous chef who comes out mid-dinner service to bust some moves to the sounds of the Latino house band – Mexicano has taken the taco shell that was once Señor Pico’s and packed it full of exciting new flavour.
“We’re all about great food and having a great time,” says Chef Carlos. “I always make sure to come out of the kitchen and personally speak to guests. And if they want to try some dishes that aren’t on the menu, but which I think they’ll like, I always give them that option too. Basically, I’m really proud of my country’s cuisine, and I want to showcase it here as best as I can.”
Proof of Chef Carlos’ ambitions is all in the taste of his food. And, wow, is it good – especially when you order dishes in the sequence he suggests, so the flavours slowly build to a crescendo of spicy, citrusy, downright deliciousness.
Following his recommendation we started with the Ceviche de atun & Huachinango (citrus marinated tuna ceviche served with bell peppers, mango and sea bass, fresh coriander, jalapeños, and tortilla chips. B325++). Served in a deep glass bowl, it was perfect for sharing and certainly delivered on Chef Carlos’ promise of fresh, vibrant flavours. (Amazing to think that it’s chopped and marinated just five minutes prior to serving).
We followed this with Pinchos de Camarones (grilled prawns with garlic, cilantro and jalapeños. B325++) which come served in all their plump and juicy glory atop a porcelain, Mexican-mask-shaped food-warmer, its eyes and mouth illuminated by a flickering candle. The creative presentation is complemented by the dish’s vibrant tastes – a harmony of subtle spice, buttery garlic, and lively cilantro.
Another starter we tried was the Fiesta de Botanas (a mixed appetizer featuring cheese quesadilla, deep fried ‘cheese and chili’ balls, spicy chicken wings, chicken flautas, and guacamole. B595++). Again, it was packed full of flavour and great for sharing.
While we did originally plan to follow up our appetizers with either a taco (range in price from B295++ to B350++) or burrito (range B250++ to B450++), impressed with Chef Carlos’ recommendations we asked him to select our main. And it proved to be a great decision.
With a big grin he scurried to the kitchen and what he emerged with was a real treat – his signature Carne de res (braised Angus beef in mole verde. B650++).
Slow-cooked for six hours, and served in a carefully-crafted green mole made using over 20 different chili peppers, the dish impressed in texture, tastes, and looks. The meat, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, was scrumptious; the accompanying salsa, smoky and slightly spicy, perfectly balanced and delicious.
We were slightly disappointed we didn’t have bigger stomachs to sample more of the fare on offer, such as Chef Carlos’ homemade Chorizo (made using a recipe he honed in Toluca de Lerdo, known as the capital of chorizo outside of the Iberian Peninsula), one of his generously-packed Tortas (traditional Mexican sandwiches), or his special Cochinita pibil (a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish), but we did get stuck into the cocktails with gusto – especially the Buena vida margarita (B280++) and Strawberry La fruta margarita (B260++), whose respective boozy kicks are both tempered by sweet, innocent flavours.
We would also have liked to sample the extensive selection of tequila, Mezcal, craft beers and international wines on offer – but unfortunately we had work the following day and actually decided to be sensible for once. It does happen!
Still, we’ll definitely be back to sample more of what’s on offer, and this includes checking out the new and improved weekly El Brunch – served every Saturday from noon-3pm for just B599++. A great deal!
“THE secret to good Mexican food is all about fresh, high quality ingredients. Using the finest produce, such as the best chili peppers and cheeses from Mexico, for instance, you can create the tastiest sauces and dishes possible. At Mexicano we do everything we can to ensure diners will have an authentic, memorable experience." – Chef Carlos Bravo, Mexicano, The Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, rembrandtbkk.com