Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prego. The Spark's Missing

Prego @ Westin Gurgaon – it has an open, airy feel and the photo station at the entrance is a startlingly sticky attraction. We record our presence in it for posterity and the waiter guides us to our table. 'What type of pasta would you like?' he asks. 'And the sauce – white or red?'
Sigh. I might as well be in a farmhouse or a marriage hall, standing - plate in hand - at a ‘live’ pasta counter during a rich Delhiite’s shaadi.
After Mexican, South Indian, Continental, we had decided to go for Italian. And I’d thought a specialist Italian restaurant would get me a greater depth of Italian food. But perhaps we’ve reduced Italian cuisine – with its ancient lineage, proud history and multifarious influences – into an oversimplified khaana. Just the way we’ve downgraded Chinese cuisine to chow mien, chopsuey, fried rice, and of course that most non Chinese of Chinese food dishes – the Manchurian. We settle for a spaghetti and a risotto – veg. Both dishes were quite pedestrian. Why did we have to come here all the way from Delhi for this? But the pizza – pesto and chicken – made up for the lack of pizzaz in the other dishes.
I would have preferred to bask in an Italian style atmosphere. But Prego has a contemporary, cosmopolitan decor – glass, chrome, lighting, a vast display of wine bottles, an open kitchen. It could be any fine dining restaurant in any urban upmarket location in any country. I guess, just as all rooms across hotel chains have started looking like clones of each other, the same fate is likely to befall the dining spaces in hotels. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.
Prego is competent and efficient in all aspects – yet the impact of the whole is smaller than the sum of the parts. The ultimate experience is ordinary.
Whether you're going in for Italian for the first time or are an aficionado - in either case you could do well to look at other options.
It’s a positioning issue for Prego I feel. It has the basics but it needs to dig deep and find a USP that will make it stand out and be counted.

It needs a spark.

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