After seeing this restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, I knew I had to come to Picabu Neighborhood Bistro.
Walking in, it felt like a nice friendly non-intimidating atmosphere. I noticed the signed print of Guy Fieri which I noticed RIGHT AWAY and had to take a picture. We, as in my friend Jesse, sat at the bar so we could get a full on view of what was going down in the kitchen. There were two cooks working furiously to get the orders out in a rather small environment. However, the restaurant itself is pretty small maybe with 15 tables and a short bar, so the kitchen size seemed adequate. The server was nice & friendly but seemed a little too much in our business as seemed to be the case with the majority of the employees there. There was a bus boy (?) that just stood there right by Jesse almost the entire time we were eating and watched the tv which was right above us.
Ok so on to the food. They say that “The menu features an eclectic mix of Thai-American-Mexican-Cajun inspired favorites and a concise, quality selection of beer & wine.” We started with the Mexican-seasoned fried calamari rings and tentacles, served with tangy cilantro-lime sauce. Not bad, not great. To me, there was nothing Mexican about it. Not really spicy, just your average Calamari fried in a yummy batter. I prefer a regular creamy aoli with my Calamari, but I was open to trying something different. I have to say, there was a little too much tang in that sauce (for me at least). The Calamari was tender and not rubbery. Key to good Calamari. NEXT.
I had a hard time deciding on an entree. Nothing stood out to me as being that original or something mouth watering that I knew I had to try. I ended up ordering the Fire Pasta ($12.50) which featured sliced chicken breast sauteed with fettuccine in an “oddly-addictive spicy garlic cream sauce” topped with fresh Parmesan and smoky bacon. I saw the cook take a large ladle and slap this paste looking substance into the pan and flames went everywhere. My dish ended up to me luke warm. I could have said something, but I never like to send anything back. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW, ya know? The sauce was definitely creamy and thick. Not too spicy but just enough heat that creeps in after a few seconds of taking a bite. There was supposed to be garlic in there, but I didn’t taste any. They really should have called it Buffalo Wing Pasta because that’s exactly what it tasted like. The chicken was the saving grace, moist and succulent. The fresh Parm micro planed on top was like a beautiful soft cloud slowly melting into the noodles. If they would have given me a big pile of that with some crackers, ah heaven. The bacon was a good addition, not too crisp, not too soft. It added that nice smokeiness and crunch it needed to balance out the softness of the noodles. It was ok, not something that I would consider addictive. (side note – I reheated this the next day, and talk about icky oil. There a huge orange puddle sitting at the bottom of my bowl.) My friend thought the dish tasted like ketchup and mustard mixed together…he’s a bit harsher than me when it comes to food…
My friend got the Curry Bowl that featured mixed vegetables and your choice of chicken or Small Planet tofu in a spicy red curry-peanut sauce over jasmine rice, garnished with cilantro. ($11.50). He stated it was bland. There should have been more vegetables with it. Maybe sear the tofu, sear the veggies for caramelization. But there was none of that. Just bare tofu placed in a thick bland curry with some steamed veggies. Ouch.
For a place that was recommended on the FOOD Network, I was very disappointed. Maybe it was what we ordered, and maybe the help was bored that night…Who knows, but I do know that it is a popular place here in Spokane, and people do love it. The employees were nice & friendly, even though a little nosy. The prices were in line for the portions. I just don’t think the flavors were there. I always give a place a second chance, so I will be back to try it again. And of course will report back on my findings. As always…