The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

Hotel Pico Blanco Restaurant - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 27 September, 2008 21:19

The restaurant at Hotel Pico Blanco offers typical Costa Rican, American, and Continental cuisine.

This hotel/restaurant is located up on the mountain south of the center of San Antonio.  The location is quite enchanting.  From the hotel you have a beautiful view of the mountain tops to the south, and you can see the entire city below you to the north.  The restaurant area seems a bit old, like it perhaps could use remodeling, but it is tastefully decorated.

We arrived for lunch just after 12:00 noon.  The lobby area was open, and when we asked if the restaurant was available we were invited to take a seat anywhere we liked.  The place was completely empty when we arrived, but by the time we left there were a couple of other tables occupied.

My companion ordered fish prepared with garlic, which was to include rice, vegetables, and salad.  She also ordered a fruit smoothee to drink.  I decided on a cheeseburger and french fries, and had a couple of beers.  The drinks seemed to be a little slow in arriving, but that was ok.  After all, they had the fruit smoothee to make, and we were in no hurry on a weekend lunchtime.  We waited and enjoyed each other's company as well as the pleasant view.  We continued to do so after the drinks arrived, and had plenty of time to do so as the food was somewhat slow in coming.  Again, we were in no hurry, so I didn't keep track of the time well enough to report here exactly how long we had to wait.  But it definitely seemed to take longer than it should have for us to receive our food, especially considering that we were the only ones in the entire restaurant at the time.  So the service here was slow, but the waitress that attended us was cordial and attentive enough to see that we had everything we needed.

When the food did finally arrive, I tasted my companion's fish, and was not at all impressed.  It was a flat filet - about as thick as a pancake, so there was not a lot there.  It was supposed to have been prepared with garlic, but I didn't taste any garlic.  It was slightly tough, meaning it was overcooked, and in truth, I found the taste to actually be mildly unpleasant, and I normally love fish.  The vegetables on the side were rubbery, and she reported to me that the rice was not cooked sufficiently.  The salad was two pieces of lettuce with some tomato salsa globbed in the center of the lettuce leaves.  The french fries that came with my hamburger were definitely the pre-frozen variety, certainly not made from scratch.  They had very little flavor and the texture left something to be desired.  My cheeseburger was thrown together and was certainly nothing special.  I have actually had worse hamburgers at some of the little sodas that I have eaten at, where one receives a pre-frozen processed patty that seems as though it is mostly made from soybeans.  The meat in this burger was at least not in a factory cut-out shape and size.  It was probably the highlight of the meal, and I certainly did better ordering it than I would have had I ordered the garlic fish plate.  Still, it was nothing to be compared with a good homemade hamburger like they make at California Western, which is reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

The price for our drinks and the meal described above was around $20. While that may not sound like a lot of money for a lunch for two people, the food was definitely low-end soda quality, and as far as I am concerned (based on my experience of eating at many restaurants and sodas throughout Costa Rica) should not have cost us more than $10 or $12, plus perhaps a little extra for my two beers.

I cannot at all recommend the restaurant at Hotel Pico Blanco.  On account of the mountain view, it may be a worthwhile location for having a couple of drinks, my beers were cold and were served with a clean glass, afterall.  But I won't be eating there again any time soon.

M.C.

Note: Hotel Pico Blanco is located in San Antonio de Escazú, 1 kilometer south of the final bus stop, up the hill.  You can visit their website at http://www.hotelpicoblanco.com

Azulejos - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 07 September, 2008 08:28

Azulejos is one of the several restaurants at the Hotel Real Intercontinental. The hotel is one of the most luxurious and reknowned hotels in Costa Rica, and the restaurant offers a high quality and varied cuisine. 

On Sundays Azulejos offers an all-you-can-eat champagne brunch starting at 12:00pm and running until 4:00pm.  Be sure to make reservations in advance as you are unlikely to get a seat on a walk-in basis.

While this brunch does seem to have been scaled down slightly in terms of the variety available, at least on my most recent visit as compared to previous occasions, the variety of food is still quite impressive and of course you can eat all you want of anything that is there.  Dishes range from a variety of salads (green salads, pasta salads, meat salads, mushroom salads, pea salads and more), breads, cheeses, cold cuts, vegetables, pastas, seafoods (whole prawns, shrimp cocktail, ceviches, sushi), meat and fish entrees, and desserts -- I guess that covers pretty much everything.  When I say that the variety has been scaled down, on previous visits they have had a sushi chef right there that will prepare you whatever kind of sushi you want with made-to-order ingredients, whereas this most recent visit they only offered the pre-prepared rolls.  Further, I noticed that there was less variety in terms of the cheeses and cold cuts on display, and previously they had paté out with the cheeses.  The salads, entrees, and desserts were plentiful as usual.  You always get a bottomless glass of champagne or orange juice, or you can mix the two for a mimosa.

Regarding this most recent visit, in terms of entrees and side orders they had a sea bass in white wine sauce, sesame seed covered salmon filets, a honey mustard pork dish, chicken, beef, whole mushrooms and snow peas, a white and wild rice mixture, roasted potatoes, and probably several other dishes that I am leaving out. One of the side dishes was a mixture of stacked thinly sliced vegetables including zucchini, onion, tomato, and eggplant that was cooked in olive oil and delicately seasoned with herbs -- not at all short of spectacular!  They have had similar variety other times I have been, offering things such as terriyaki salmon, rabbit, and sweet and sour pork.  

If you have room for dessert after all that food, there are crêpes made to order with things such as fruits (there are strawberries, bananas, peaches, blueberries, pineapple, etc.) and these can be topped off with a variety of nuts, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or whipped cream.  I had the traditional strawberry crêpe with chocolate sauce and whipped cream, but I also had a surprisingly good pineapple crêpe topped off with caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Other desserts on display for the taking are tiramisú, various creatively designed chocolate dipped fruits, tiny lemon merengue pies, rice pudding, mousse, pecan pie bars, cheesecake, and a variety of other interesting non-descript or nameless sweet-tooth satisfying creations (some better than others).

When it appears that you are slowing down somewhat, one of the attentive waiters will come by and offer you coffee or your choice of tea to help you settle all of that food.

The cost for this brunch is $35 per person, plus tax.  Based on the large variety of food and the fact that it is all you can eat *and* effectively all you can drink champagne as well, this qualifies as a real bargain.  Even though the pricetag is larger than what you might pay for a typical dinner in Costa Rica, this brunch cannot rightly be compared to typical restaurant offerings.  I have eaten in other restaurants that cost almost as much (see other reviews in this blog) where I didn't even really enjoy the dish I ordered.  If you get something you don't like at the brunch, you just don't eat it and go back and get something else.  If you like what you get, then you can go back for seconds and thirds.  You can try a little bit of everything they have.  These options are simply not available to you in a typical dining situation.

In short, at Azulejos (at least as it applies to this brunch), you get what you would expect in terms of quality and variety from a top tier hotel restaurant, without an unduly high price tag attached.

Highly Recommended. 

M.C.

Note: Azulejos is located in the Hotel Real Intercontinental across from Multiplaza in Escazú.  You can find out more information about Azulejos and the other restaurants at the hotel by visiting www.interbanquetes.com, where you can also make dinner reservations online.  You can also make reservations via telephone by calling 2208-2100.

 
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