Thank you for the fabulous responses and reviews to Feasting in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. You can buy a copy for ₡7500 at any of the following restaurants:
1. Alajuela - Jalapeños Central
2. Ciudad Colon - Aroi Thai
3. Escazú - Banzai
4. San Jose - Tin Jo
6. San Pablo de Heredia - Mike’s Southwest Grill
7. Santa Ana - PHO Restaurante Vietnamito
For those of you in the states and Canada, it is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Booklocker in both paperback and ebook.
Il Gourmet Multiplaza, Escazu - I have delayed reviewing this venue because I couldn’t decide whether to praise it or pan it. In fact, it is worthy of both.
First the praise: The lounge-like setting is comfortable and attractive, perfect for a shopping break, relaxation and people watching. Coffees, cookies and other pastries are all quite good. The young women servers are friendly and fairly attentive.
The negatives include these: The prices understandably reflect the high cost of doing business in Multiplaza, but still are higher than most of the competition. Judging by the subscript on the sign and their internet ads, Il Gourmet considers itself Italian. Their fettuccini Bolognese was typical of Costa Rican pasta, not Italian. The noodles were overcooked, the sauce bland and watery and meat completely lacking in character. Giving the Italian side of the menu another chance, we tried pizza. The crust lacked elasticity and flavor. The prosciutto was of nice quality. Advertised arugula could hardly be seen or tasted. Despite the potential engendered by good components, the presentation looked haphazard and the small pie cost ₡7000. The lunch prices did include a beverage and small dessert. I would return for a cappuccino and butter cookie break, but probably not for lunch with so many other options available close by. Open every day from 10am to 9pm.
Yorgo’s - Two regulars of this blog had opposite opinions of the Rohrmoser Blvd. Peruvian restaurant, Yorgo’s. The spot on the north side of the boulevard about a block and a half west of Plaza Mayor across from a park has parking in front. The interior décor pleases the eye with a lovely painted ceiling and stylized Andean pictures on the walls. The ever-present flat screen TV played the mid day soap opera, but with minimal volume. The menu offered more fish and seafood than meat or chicken, but more than enough of each. The average price range per plate including salads, rice dishes and cold plates was ₡5000 to ₡6000 except for more expensive steaks and beef brochettes. Having been reassured by the pleasant waitress that the seafood was fresh, I ordered one of their designated special plates of picante de mariscos, spicy seafood. The portion size was decent. The seafood consisted of mostly calamari rings and chopped tentacles. There were a few smallish shrimp and nothing else. The sauce looked so good I asked for a spoon. It turned out to be fairly bland despite visually suggesting a medley of herbs and spices. When I added a teaspoon of the mustard color house hot sauce, the flavor improved mightily. It had more than enough fire-power. The squid was a little chewy, but not bad. Neither were the shrimp, but they lacked the juicy pop of the never-been-frozen kind. The rice was properly cooked. So, my friends, my first impression falls between your stated extremes. Not too expensive but not a bargain. Adequately prepared food, but hardly memorable. Flavors suggestive of Tico-style Peruvian rather than what a Peruvian chef might prepare. Comfortable setting with attentive service. Worthy of a visit if you are in the vicinity, particularly on a Monday when most of the nearby restaurants are closed. I watched half a dozen main courses go by to the back room. They all bore a certain sameness. Perhaps I’m being unfair since I nearly always go to a place at least twice before offering an opinion, but I doubt that more visits would elevate Yorgo’s to gourmet status on the one hand or inedible on the other. Open daily from 11am to 9pm except 11 to 6 on Sunday. 2290-2960
Panaderia La Petite France. For those of you with good memories, I have reviewed this gem before. My favorite bakeries had always been La Toscana and Chez Cristophe, both in Escazú. I praised La Petite Paris as an east side of the valley alternative. During the International Book Fair, I spent more time in Los Yoses, San Pedro and Curridabat and had a chance to try more of their take-out items and sit happily over in-house lunches. My wife loves both La Toscana and Chez Cristophe, but admitted, as did I, that this Curridabat panaderia and café has eclipsed both of them to the number one position on our family preference list. It feels a little disloyal, but this place deserves our new loyalty. Croissants, baguettes, quiche, éclairs, almond and marzipan pastries, great sandwiches and fine coffees fill the bill. Add a nice family, fair prices and good service to the appeal. Joan’s favorite sandwich is croque madam and mine tuna, anchovy, hard boiled eggs, lettuce and tomato on an arms’ length perfect baguette. Haven’t tried their popular breakfasts. 7 to 6 Wednesday – Saturday. 7-2 on Sunday. If you are heading through San Pedro into Curridabat on the main road, turn right at the large POPS on the right side of the road and continue until you see Plaza Cristal on the right. Turn right just before Cristal and the café/panaderia will appear shortly near the end of a small strip mall called Plaza Milano.
Da Marco has been one of my favorites for years and I have heaped praises on chef Marco Di Nando a number of times. The reason I am praising him once again is because we went to a wedding there with about 50 other guests recently and the quality of the three courses (six options), service and attentiveness of the staff surpassed any group event I have attended in recent years. Bravo! I chose eggplant Parmesan, duck lasagna and pane cotta as my three courses and really enjoyed all three. Although three stars constitute high praise in my new book, Feasting in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, I felt a bit uneasy after the wedding that I hadn’t given Da Marco a fourth star.
Location: From the highway to Ciudad Colón heading west, turn left at the first corner past the exit from the Pista Del Sol towards Piedades. On the right side as you climb the hill you will see the building and its sign. Enter to the right of the building and park past the gatekeeper for the hotel. 2282-4103. Tuesday to Thursday noon to 3 and 6 11. Friday and Saturday noon to 11. Sunday 12 to 5.
La Posada de Las Brujas My favorite restaurateur for quality Tico food at bargain basement prices has been and continues to be charming Colombiano, Laly. He quit the business for a while and sold Casa Laly in Escazú to new people who opened Casona de Laly across from the Forum, capitalizing on his fine name. He opened Rancho de Laly in Santa Ana just west of Cruz Roja and it is as good and as inexpensive as his original Casa de Laly. When I wrote about gastropubs in September, I hadn’t heard that Laly had done it again, great food at bargain prices, this time in a gastropub near Escazu’s town center. From the northeast corner of the Catholic Church, go 250 meters east on avenida 30. Your choice of 60 Tico bocas and main courses are sure to please at La Posada de Las Brujas. Closed Mondays, otherwise 11 am to 1 am.2228-1645
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