The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

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.

Ichiban - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 28 August, 2008 21:52

Ichiban is a Japanese restaurant and is a fairly popular location for sushi in the San Jose metro area. 

I have eaten at Ichiban numerous times.  From a quiet dinner with a companion and two other friends for the Teppan Yaki style dinner, to the executive Bento Box lunches for business meetings on numerous occasions.  I have eaten at their restaurant in Rohrmoser, as well as in Escazú (update: Unfortunately the Escazu' location is now closed).  The food I have eaten there so far has ranged from acceptable to absolutely fantastic.  One of the dishes ordered by one of my fellow diners when we went for Teppan Yaki was a fresh tuna dish that was spectacular, and I would recommend it to anyone going to Ichiban for dinner.

However, my most recent excursion to Ichiban was once again for a lunchtime business meeting.  There were three of us at the meeting, and we all orderd a different Bento Box lunch.  The other two ordered the chicken varieties (one also ordered the additional sushi and dessert package), and I ordered the terriyaki beef lunch with the additional sushi and dessert.  All of the ordinary bento box lunches come with a small bowl of miso soup as a starter, followed by your main plate which has salad, some crunchy rice noodles, and fried rice.  Then there is also the entree, which is different depending on the particular bento box that you order.  There are chicken, beef, and vegetarian options.  If you order the additional sushi package, you get 8 pieces of sushi that are served at the beginning of your meal, and then you also get a medium sized dish of ice cream at the end of the meal.

I very much enjoyed my bento box lunch.  The terriyaki beef was quite enjoyable.  Between the soup and the sushi and all the other components of the meal that I mentioned above, there was plenty of food to satisfy me -- at least for lunch.  The main challenge for me was eating the rice with my chopsticks.  If you dont want to be bothered to participate in such cross-cultural dining experiences, then you can ask for silverware.  For good measure, one of my companions allowed me to try the tempurah chicken that she had ordered.  It was good, but I preferred my own beef dish.

So, what should all this cost?  A satisfying business lunch for three in a comfortable environment cost a grand total of less than $24 -- and that included a tip!

Recommended. 

M.C.

Note: Ichiban has restaurants in Belen and Rohrmoser.

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