The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

Beach Edition: Kaite Blanco - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 08 February, 2010 00:32

Kaite Blanco is a bar and sea food restaurant located in Puntarenas centro.

I was in Puntarenas on a day trip, and my attorney had suggested that Kaite Blanco was a good place to go to eat chuchecas, which is a black shellfish eaten fresh out of the shell, much like an oyster.  We asked around downtown for directions, which we received along with recommendations from residents and visitors regarding other restaurants in the area, but in the end I decided to take my attorney's suggestion.
From the outside Kaite Blanco appears to be little more than an old village bar, and indeed upon first entry that perception is reinforced.  However, if you are looking for the restaurant it is all the way in the back where there are a number of tables.  There were a few people sitting and drinking in the bar area, but the restaurant was completely empty other than the group that I was with.
The view from the restaurant could be rather quaint, but it isn't.  The area looks out over a little beach (for lack of a better word).  It isn't really a beach -- it is more like an area where the ocean meets the land.  There is no sand, just a lot of mud.  There are a few old boats, a couple of them broken down and rusted up on the shore, and another tied up but apparently doing not much more than rotting, tied to a post in the water.  The old broken boats didn't bother me -- I'm sure with the right presentation they could actually be quite charming.  But in addition to all of this there was a lot of trash and a variety of junk strewn about, which made the whole scene unattractive.  There were plenty of seagulls around, and even pelicans out sitting on the boat that was tied up -- nothing wrong with that.  Among the trash, though, there was a plastic bag full of something that had been thrown out there, which had attracted a flock of vultures.  Now I realize that vultures provide a quite necessary function in the planet's ecosystem, but they are ugly creatures and certainly do not provide for a charming dining environment.  In short, while having potential, the place really needs to be cleaned up to make it an attraction.
Of course, I wasn't too concerned.  I would happily overlook the trash and the vultures if the food was impressive.
Unfortunately, when I looked at the menu, there were only two dishes that offered chuchecas (neither of them being the fresh, in the shell preparation that I was looking for) -- ceviche, and chuchecas with rice.  We asked the owner about this and he said that he used to keep the live chuchecas outside in a pond.  However, due to the conditions out there and the risk of bacteria, etc. he could no longer do so and thus was no longer offering the dish due to the health risk.  He said that he lost substantial business for making that decision because there were people that liked to go to his restaurant to eat that dish, but he just couldn't maintain a proper environment for the live shellfish.
I was very disappointed that I could not get the fresh chuchecas, but I went for the next best thing, that being the chucheca ceviche.  It was enjoyable -- the chuchecas seemed quite fresh, and the ceviche was well prepared.  Others in my group ordered sea bass filets cooked in garlic, whole sea bass, and chicken with rice.  My ceviche dish wasn't large, but ceviche is often served in very small servings, so I considered the dish to be of reasonable size.  The other dishes were all served in healthy portions.  I sampled a number of them and all of those that I tried were well prepared.  In my opinion prices were a little more than they should have been, but in perspective they weren't all that high considering that we are talking about seafood.
Perhaps the prices were comparable to what one might pay for similar dishes at the Princessa Marina.  That isn't a bad thing, since, in my review of that restaurant elsewhere on this site, I have remarked that the Princessa Marina offers great value for seafood.  However, the Princessa Marina is also in the metro area and Kaite Blanco is at the beach, literally on the water.  As a result, Kaite Blanco loses points because it has to be held to a higher standard due to its proximity to the ocean.
All in all, my visit to this restaurant was not unpleasant, but I would certainly be in no hurry to return to eat here a second time.  If you are looking for food in Puntarenas, my recommendation is to try other restaurants in the area before eating at Kaite Blanco.
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