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Mar 18, 2007 01:49 PM

Cafe Picasso in Somerville-- Bad first impression

Cafe Picasso, located on Main St. in Somerville, has been in existence for perhaps 8 months, but I had never tried it. This restaurant's outward appearance certainly added some well-needed polish to that end of the street, near the "derelict shopping center", so my S.O. and I decided to drop in for coffee and cake yesterday afternoon. Although it is clearly a restaurant, a sign in the window said "espresso bar", so I figured that this would be a good way to check the place out.

Well, based on this experience, I doubt that I would return. Our order for one espresso, one regular coffee, and one slice of cake took an inordinately long period of time to prepare. And, when our order arrived, both the espresso and the coffee were only luke warm. My bad-tasting, weak espresso had the unmistakeable taste and odor of chlorine, so clearly the proprietors do not filter their water as an establishment that takes pride in its coffee should do. My S.O.'s coffee was apparently also reeking of chlorine and had an off-taste, or so I was told. The cake was decent, although it was nothing extraordinary.

The worst part was the bill--both trying to get it and the shock of seeing the total. The non-enumerated bill simply displayed the amount--$14.25, without any breakdown of the charges for each item. Now, perhaps I am behind the times, but it seems to me that this was a bit much for what we had ordered--especially given the quality of what we were served.

Since we were in a hurry, I did not question the amount of the bill, and I simply left $16.25 on the table as we departed. I consider this a relatively cheap way to become educated about the shortcomings of an establishment, despite the fact that we received poor value for that amount of money.

So--I am curious about other people's experiences with Cafe Picasso. Would you return?

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    1. Ted, I have not been to this restaurant but I have walked by it many times and wondered what it's like. Your experience is very discouraging. I hope people who have eaten dinner or lunch there will also post.

      I have friends who go there quite often BUT they go on a night (Tuesday??) when it's all you can eat, or discounts apply, or something similar. They have told me that the portions are huge but I can't recall any comments about the quality! LOL

      The next time you're in Somerville, and crave a coffee and a pastry, walk down towards the court house to The Dessert Plate. They have wonderful pastries though I don't believe you can get espresso. Their regular coffee, however, is very good. You will not be disappointed.

      BTW, The Dessert Plate is opposite the court house.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ambrose

        Ambrose--Thank you for the recommendation regarding The Dessert Plate. Actually, I am a daily customer of theirs (M-F), and it was my first choice on Saturday, due to the excellence of their coffee and their baked goods. Since they were closed already (this was after 4:00 PM, which I believe is their Saturday closing time), I had this brainstorm (obviously not a very good one) to try Cafe Picasso.

        I had to laugh about the comments of your friends regarding the huge size of the portions at Cafe Picasso, but no comments regarding quality. All too often nowadays, I hear people extolling the virtues of a restaurant by referring only to gargantuan portions, with no mention of quality.

        1. re: ambrose

          The Dessert Plate...Ginger Scones...mmmmm...

          1. re: fpatrick

            Hmm.. the Dessert Plate looks awesome, but somehow EVERY time i think of stopping there they are closed. perhaps i just keep weird hours.

            Cafe Picasso used to be located in the "shopping center" (that big ugly monstronsity on Main Street) sandwiched next to a laundromat (and to think, they had "outdoor" tables - how appealing, hmm?). Went there a few times a while back, and the food was lackluster at best (and they felt "risotto" should be some sort of soupy cream dish) and the service was ok but with a feeling of subtle undertones of snotty attitude.
            Went more recently to the new location, and got a really bad vibe from the whole place, we sat for a few minutes and suddenly decided to get up and leave, just a bad feeling.

            For standard pizza restaurant fare, Alphonso's down the street is ok, if you like the madhouse, family oriented mob scene and yes, HUGE portions of pasta (all your standard concoctions) with a.... half-price deal on Mon/Tues.

            1. re: Sethboy

              Today, I asked someone in Somerville if she had ever eaten at Cafe Picasso, and without any prompting, she replied--"yes--and it's awful". I asked her for clarification and she told me that the people in her party each ordered a different entree (I recall Stuffed Flounder and perhaps Stuffed Salmon as two of the items), and that each and every one of them came to the table COLD in the center.

              As we all know, this indicates that frozen pre-portioned entrees are being used, and that is not what I go to a restaurant for--especially when they charge the prices that Cafe Picasso does for dinner. So, even though I only had a bad experience with coffee and cake, this woman's experience tells me that I don't need to even consider returning there for dinner.

        2. I had a similar experience... went in for a coffee and pastry, expecting a cafe atmosphere based on the sign. I'm glad, after reading this thread, that I walked out before ordering. Shame on me for thinking about cheating on the Dessert Plate! Maybe it was a Monday... they're closed Mondays (there's a tip for you, Sethboy)!

          4 Replies
          1. re: The Engineer

            LOL, I was going to resurrect this thread when your message appeared!

            I still have not been to Cafe Picasso, mainly because of this discussion, but I feel I must pass on a very favorable review from friends who went for dinner with a large group. It was a birthday party for a grandchild and I understand there were about a dozen people there. Everyone had a "wonderful time", the food was apparently good and my friends said they would definitely go back.

            All I can say is that different people have different experiences!

            1. re: ambrose

              I see so many terrible reviews of Cafe Picasso, that I wanted to interject my good review of them. Though I have only been there once, it was with a group of 15 people. I thought the food was good, I liked the ambiance and the service was also good for the amount of people in our party. My husband and I are actually going back next Saturday night with his aunt and uncle. I suppose like most places, experiences can be hit or miss....since my first was a hit I am hoping my second isn't a miss!

              1. re: lisa0912

                I have been to Cafe Picasso 3 times.. the first when they were in their old spot.. i thought the food was better .. more home cooked in their original spot.. both times i had dinner in the new place.. 1x there were 5 of us.. the food was good.. and the service very attentive... the last time I was there was about a year ago for a birthday party .. the food was good.. nothing to be super excited about.. and the service was fair.. but generally I do not expect much when it is large party at 1 big table.. we were 18 people.. and they had another large party of about the same number in the back room... not my ideal situation. But I would definately go again.

                1. re: newinnj

                  I think it's hit or miss with Cafe Picasso. I've had some really good pasta dishes and some pretty bad "par-boiled" chicken dishes. However, I've always had good service.

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