The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

El Terruno - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 13 June, 2008 11:45

El Terruño is an Argentine restaurant.  The menu features items of typical Argentine cusine -- in other words, lots of meat.  If you´re a vegetarian, look elsewhere. 

The restaurant´s layout and furnishings, while not extravagent, are clean, tasteful, and comfortable.  Aside from the main area of the restaurant, they have a glass-enclosed ¨outdoor¨ area immediately in front of the restaurant.  The back wall (facing the restaurant) is open, and there is an open space between the celing and the walls, so the area is well ventilated.  My dining companion and I ate in this area, and we both found it to be comfortable.

We ate here on a Thursday night.  When we arrived it was early evening, and there were only a few tables occupied, but by the time we had finished and were ready to leave, the place was almost completely full.  Most of the diners were expats.  We did not have a reservation and it would appear that one normally would not need one.  On the other hand, it may be a good idea to arrive slightly early if you want your choice of seating.  Bear in mind that the place might be even busier on weekends.

Our waiter was attentive and helpful throughout the duration of our visit -- even after the place got busy.

In terms of food, we started our meal with an appetizer of Argentine Empanadas, which are meat pastries (or turnovers).  These were served with a delicious seasoned oil on the side.  I ordered a lightly battered and fried steak served with slices of ham, motzarella cheese, and sliced tomatoes over it, and covered just slightly with a tomato-based sauce.   This came with a healthty portion of steak fries on the side.  My companion ordered a dish of bite-sized chicken breast pieces and bite-sized potato served in a tasty cream sauce that contained mushrooms and small pieces of ham.  The meal was accompanied by a small loaf of bread.  

We were both exceedingly satisfied with our meal choices.  Both were delicious.  Portions were very good sized and we both finished very full and satisfied.

The pricetag for this combination of comfortable surroundings, great service, and reasonably large servings of excellent food (including the tip) was $36.  While somewhat more expensive than other restaurants I have been to here in Costa Rica, I can´t say that the price was exorbitant.  You will pay less to eat here than you would at, say, the White House, located up in the Escazú hills, and the food here is far superior.  There are many other restaurants now that one can find in Costa Rica that sport a pricetag of this size but without the quality.  I try to avoid restaurants that fall in that category but from time to time I stumble into them by mistake.  When I do you can be sure that I will write an unfavorable review on the pages of this blog.  But that is not the case here.  If you are up for spending +/- $35 on a nice dinner for two, then El Terruño is a good place to do it.

M.C.

Note:  El Terruño is located in Plaza Itskatzu, which is on the opposite side of the autopista from Multiplaza in Escazú.

La Princesa Marina - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 28 May, 2008 18:04

La Princesa Marina is primarily a seafood restaurant.  They do serve other types of dishes, such as chicken, beef, etc. but those items are not the specialty, and frankly are not the attraction of this place. 

My understanding is that the owner of La Princesa Marina also owns a fleet of fishing vessels, and (though i have never tried this) that you can actually buy fresh seafood at this restaurant to prepare at home.

I have eaten here twice, and I´m not sure why I don´t go more frequently.  The seafood is indeed served very fresh, is reasonably well prepared, and inexpensive.  While seafood in Costa Rica tends to be on the pricey side, I think you would pay as much or more buying raw seafood for preparation at home at a supermarket as buying a complete seafood meal at La Princesa Marina.  My most recent visit was with a party of 4 adults and one small child.  We all ate our fill, INCLUDING drinks for everyone, and paid just less than $40.  A complete seafood meal (dinner -- not lunch) for less than $10 per person?  I don´t know where else to find that kind of value.

Meals are not elaborate, but are well prepared.  Most dishes come with a side order of rice and vegetables.  On my first visit I had a garlic octopus dish that was simply delicious.  For my second visit I had a plate of mixed shellfish.  While the shellfish were obviously fresh, I didn´t enjoy this dish as much as the octopus because the shellfish were so thoroughly bathed in sauce, that the flavors mixed and everything tasted the same.  It was good, but it would have been better with either less sauce or a lighter (less powerful) sauce in order to accentuate the different flavors of the shellfish.  Of course I could have ordered the octopus a second time, or could order that the next time I go.  But there are so many tasty looking dishes on the menu that I will continue to roll the dice and try something new when I return.

Due to the low prices, La Princesa Marina is a popular restaraunt.  There is a good showing during the week and on the weekends it is just plain crowded.  Pick your times in order to avoid the crowds, or put up with the noise.  This restaurant is not the type of place to spend a romantic evening over a candle-light dinner -- it is a place to EAT seafood at a good price.  Tables, place settings, ambiance, etc. are very plain.  So overall the place is noisy, but clean, with good food and low prices.

In it´s class -- highly recommended.

M.C.

Note:  La Princesa Marina has locations in Sabana, Curridibat, and Alajuela.  I have only been to the restaurant in Sabana, which is located 150 meters south of Channel 7 (Teletica).

Visit their website at http://www.princesamarina.com
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