The Dhaka Food Diaries - Cilantro Restaurant Dhanmondi (Menu)
Ok! So this is my second endeavor in the Dhaka Food Diaries Saga. Previously I wrote about PANINI RESTAURANT BANANI – which is a gem of a restaurant primarily because of its incredible European style interior décor, although there are certain areas in the food and pricing dept. which may require further attention from the owners! Read all about the Panini restaurant at my hub located at: http://travel-o-grapher.hubpages.com/hub/Dhaka-Food-Blog-Personal-experiencesreviews-of-eateries-in-Dhaka. However, this time around I shall be writing about a recently opened CILANTRO restaurant at the Artsy Dhanmondi area!
However, before I get into the review – just a bit of background! As I have already mentioned in my PANINI review - I love food! I love to get out too! But hey – I don’t like the idea of getting ripped off by some wanabe faker :p The little time I spend out with my F&F should ideally be quality time with quality food and at a place with a better than average ambiance! This is why I get really frustrated when I end up spending an evening eating out at a lousy or mismanaged or unnecessarily overpriced place. I am willing to pay good value for good experience and quality food. This is why I decided to write the Dhaka Food Diaries series of blogs which focus on the different eateries in Dhaka. All thoughts and opinions expressed in these blogs are my own and I am not some hired lackey of any restaurant owners (I wish… haha). Basically I will try to keep adding more and more blogs as I experience the different eateries of Dhaka. My personal review will be based on what I experience and what I eat and what I see. The reviews will be accompanied by crappy mobile phone photos taken by me J. I will include locations, addresses and contact numbers of the places I visit for yours truly! So that you can glide from one eatery to the next with utter decadence and ease! :D
I will rate the eateries on (1) Quality of Food (2) Ambiance/décor and (3) Price and based on these three, I shall provide an overall score. HOWEVER, IN CASE OF CILANTRO, I ALSO ADDED THE SERVICE AS AN EXTRA THING TO BE CONSIDERED! Read below for explanation!
CILANTRO RESTAURANT DHANMONDI [49 Satmasjid Road (between Abacus and Olympia), Dhanmondi; Phone: +88029102320, +8801766449912]:
(1) Quality of Food: 3/5
(2) Ambiance/décor: 4.75/5
(3) Price: 2.5/5
(4) Service: 2/5
(4) Overall: 3.06/5
I recently visited CILANTRO RESTAURANT DHANMONDI in the company of my better half in April 2013. I hadn’t seen any publicity for CILANTRO prior to going there. I just heard about it through word of mouth – that an amazing new place with incredible décor had opened up at Dhanmondi Shathmosjid Road. Still, I wasn’t really ready for what I actually saw! CILANTRO is a true visual treat for sore eyes… the internal décor and ambiance is a true work of art, a real labor of love… I read in the daily star that the work was done by an architect… whoever he or she is, my hats off to that architect… if for nothing else… you should DEFINITELY check out CILANTRO for the interior décor! More about the amazing interior works in the “Ambiance/Décor” section below. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the pricing of the menu, quality of food AND the quantity of food. We spent about BDT 1500 there and left the place still feeling extremely hungry! Also no air conditioning!!! A HUGE negative of the place, because its very uncomfortable to eat there during the summer days (as I very painfully found out), which just about makes up 9 months of a year at Bangladesh!
Now a bit of breakdown provided below:
We ordered a Grilled Sirloin (BDT 675), a Spicy Thai Chicken (BDT 450) and two cokes (BDT 80 each). A service charge of 10% and VAT of 15% on top of the total bill makes the final bill significantly higher as well. So, all in all, compared to the other local eateries of Dhanmondi, prices at CILANTRO were a bit high. I was also very unimpressed with the pricing of the cokes at BDT 80 each! Very displeased with that! Furthermore, I would also be adding up 25% on that BDT 80, making a simple class of coke being priced at BDT 100!!! Ridiculous!!! Preposterous!!! Absurd to the infinity! :D THERE! Now that’s out of my system! That was really bothering my outlook at life! Also all the other drinks were priced exorbitantly, nothing below BDT 150 and most of them over BDT 200! Add another 25% on top of that and you can understand how badly the food is priced.
The food was a stark contrast to the décor. It was in one word “BORING”. It was ordinary. It was unsatisfying and disappointing. It was so common that I don’t want to go back to that place again! Also, the menu lacked variety of any kind! There were only a few main courses. But I can forgive that since the place is quite new and its better to have a more focused menu at that time. However, what I cannot forgive is ordinary and dull tasting food, which unfortunately, CILANTO served to me. As mentioned above, we ordered the Grilled Sirloin (BDT 675) and Spicy Thai Chicken (BDT 450). The steak was like a chuck of meat, way too sour tasting due to excessive use of vinegar and also too thick for any flavors to get inside the steak properly. We chose grilled veggies and spiced rice as side dishes. The grilled veggies were not bad, pretty good in fact but the spiced rice was a bore. On the other hand, the Spicy Thai Chicken was a total disaster. It was basically steamed rice serviced with some sweet and sour chicken and with a poached egg on top. Also the size of the serving was so small that I left the restaurant still quite hungry. Overall, I was very disappointed with the quality/quantity and taste of the main dishes at CILANTRO. As mentioned above, we didn’t try any of their exotic drinks but that’s because, I personally feel that all these exotic drinks served up at different eateries are to rip customers off, but that’s just my opinion!
I absolutely love the décor of CILANTRO! The décor is by far the best part of Cilantro and indeed, because of it’s unique and distinct style, its arguably has the best restaurant décor in Dhaka and indeed Bangladesh. The interior décor has a very distinctive style and feel to it. Most of the work is done using un-plastered bricks, natural varnished woods, roughly hewn wooden furniture. But the most distinctive part of the internal architecture and indeed the central element of the whole place are USED GLASS JARS! Yup, you heard me right, GLASS JARS! :D The architect very innovatively and creatively used glass jars by hanging them from the ceiling in large clusters to imitate the effect of chandeliers by inserting small bulbs inside the hanging jars. Believe me, the effect is quite a sight and very mesmerizing and unique. The large number of miniature yellow bulbs inside the creatively arranged hanging jars is a sight to behold indeed. I also liked the entrance (although very narrow and almost unnoticeable because it is sandwiched between OLYMPIA RESTAURANT and ABACUS RESTAURANT) and the way the CILANTRO LOGO has been made with wood). And yes, I know that the photos I took do not do justice to the décor of the place!
I usually don’t give much thought to “Service” of a restaurant. Im all about just getting in a place, ordering whatever catches my fancy, having a good time with the company I keep and then getting out. I don’t much care about the service of the place as long as there are no hiccups and as long as the waiters/support staffs are unobtrusive. However, I couldn’t help myself from bringing “Service” in as an additional criteria in this blog because of what I experienced. First off, the waiter was horrible. He was always hovering around, coming up every few minutes to ask if we needed anything else but then becoming inattentive when we actually needed something and were calling him. Secondly, the waiter took about 20 minutes to get me the bill after I asked for it, even though I specifically told him that we were in a hurry to leave. Thirdly, CILANTRO had no air-conditioning! It was a really hot day and I was immediately repulsed when I got into the place due to the lack of air-conditioning. However, even then, we decided to give the place a chance as it had such amazing décor. But then, the electricity went away due to load shedding and we found out that CILANTRO had no BACK UP GENERATOR!!! Just imagine eating in an unconditioned restaurant on a hot summer night and then suddenly the electricity goes away and there’s no backup generator!!!! I mean that’s gotta be like a slap in the face, especially since you would be paying such high prices for food and also 10% for service charge! We had to finish our food in a hot and humid environment without electricity and then on top of it all, when we were trying to get out of the place in a hurry (imagine being in a furnace!), the waiter took another 20 minutes to get the bill! Wow!!! Just thinking about it makes me NOT want to go to that place again!
The bottom line is that CILANTRO has unmatched, mind-blowing ambiance/décor,
arguably the best in Bangladesh, but has a lot of grounds to improve in
relation to the quality/quantity/variety of food as well as pricing. The lack
of air conditioning is also a deterrent. Furthermore, they definitely need to
improve their waiter services and most importantly, they need to set up backup
generator ASAP! Go there to check out the ambiance/décor but not have too high
hopes about the food or the service! Know that you have been warned :p