Bolivian Restaurant Review: Broadway Grill and Bar in Santa Cruz
(Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia)
Santa Cruz, Bolivia has a new American-style restaurant called Broadway Grill and Bar, across the street from the Burger King on the corner of the Cristo statue, just 1/2 block from the popular Monseñor Rivero café strip. It's a great location and accessible to all, just off the city's busiest intersection, but with plenty of parking.
Broadway opened on July 18, 2012, the day prior to our visit. It's slogan is "The Real American Style". It's an NYC themed restaurant with an art deco interior complete with a life-sized yellow taxi, and much consideration was obviously given to the exterior and interior designs, which are very nice, clean and polished, with comfortable tables and booths, black and white checked floors, a giant poster of the statue of liberty, etc. The restaurant has an ample lower floor, a large mezzanine, a large outdoor area, and a bar on the top floor. It also has an ice cream bar on the front outdoor deck.
Being this was their first day open, some leeway must be given for little things that made our visit less pleasant than it could have been, but in all it´s a nice place:
a) The waiters are new of course, and ours didn´t know what all the foods were. For example, they offer a dessert called the Broadway Martini. However, there was no photo of it and our waiter had no idea what it was. One of the steaks on the menu had a portion size (the Porterhouse steak is 450 grams) but the others didn´t and the waiter was unable to tell us anything other than it was probably pretty big. That made it a little difficult at the time we placed our order. However, we took a look around at the orders others were being served, as well as our own, and the portion sizes are generous.
b) The same cannot be said for the desserts. The menu pictures a large, thick slice of strawberry cheesecake (priced at Bs. 22 or roughly $3.20) but what we were served was an absolutely miniscule little strawberry tart with a very thick, hard cookie crust, about a teaspoon of what might be called cheesecake, and numerous strawberry pieces on top. It probably didn´t help that it was served in an enormous bowl, as this only made it look more tiny (see photo above). We also ordered an ice-cream topped brownie (pictured on the menu with vanilla ice cream) but served with chocolate ice cream. The brownie was a very light brown and had very little chocolate flavor, more like a light white chocolate cake, not really a brownie at all. Its redeeming quality turned out to be the ice cream. We weren't thrilled to be given chocolate ice cream, but it was absolutely delicious and very, very similar to American ice cream complete with curls of milk chocolate inside. Still, the "un-brownie" itself was a major disappointment. It had, in fact, so little flavor we left it.
c) One of us ordered the Porterhouse steak with a side of mashed potatoes and a side of coleslaw. The coleslaw is similar to coleslaw but not really coleslaw. It does have a good flavor, it just wasn't coleslaw (photo above). The steak was very rare, but very tasty. The mashed potatoes were the best part of the meal. Absolutely fantastic, thick and creamy, Texas-style with the skins mixed in. Delicious!
d) The other of us ordered a cheeseburger with French fries. Americans have a very hard time with hamburgers and cheeseburgers in Santa Cruz. There just doesn't seem to be a place that has yet to make a real American-style hamburger or cheeseburger. This one was no exception. At Bs. 55 (really? eight bucks?!?!) it was pretty much just a big burger with lettuce, tomato, and way too much cheese (2 types, one white, one which we think was cheddar). The cheese sort of overwhelmed the burger. It was too salty and too much). The fries, on the other hand, were good. Big and crispy on the outside, fluffy and good on the inside. We were super happy to be served Heinz ketchup as Bolivian ketchup is so full of sugar it´s usually sickeningly sweet.
e) The fresh-squeezed orange juice was premium. Absolutely just the right flavor. Bolivians tend to make their juices super sweet. This orange juice was just perfect - which made up for the fact that we had actually ordered a Paceña Black beer, but they were out of it, being as their opening night was apparently very busy. The juice took the disappointment away completely.
f) Now for the prices. Too expensive. Even by Bolivian "expensive restaurant" standards, Bs. 55 for a burger and fries, Bs. 22 for a teensy weensy strawberry tart, and Bs. 25 for a non-brownie just was too expensive. Our total tab for 2 people was Bs. 237, about twice what you`d pay for 2 people at other steakhouses, which are abundant anyway in Santa Cruz.
g) The service. We realize this was their first day open. So we'll visit again in a couple of months, by which time the waiters will have had time to learn the menu and feel comfortable in their really cute uniforms. However, one note: it took 20 minutes for the waiter to bring us our bill. Upon reviewing it, we noticed they had not charged us our drinks (two juices and a coke). We took it upon ourselves to be honest and let him know. But we're not sure others would have done the same. Another 15 minutes went by and the waiter had still not returned with our bill so after a total of 35 minutes, we finally gave up and went to the cashier ourselves.
h) The manager is a really nice guy who greeted us at the door in perfect English, which was a pretty cool surprise. Apparently he lived in the US for nearly 40 years. That was a really nice touch and a great welcome.
Broadway Grill and Bar has the potential to become a pretty cool place! Despite the above mixed review, we think that when the nerves of "new-ness" have settled down, with a little more experience and training for the waitstaff, and maybe a few adjustments to the products featured on the dessert menu (namely the un-cheesecake and the un-brownie), it could become a very popular place to eat. The location is certainly great and the design is really, really inviting, young-ish and fun.
But you know, if you´re going to market yourself as "American style" then your products really do have to be "American style" because part of "American style" is you get to return your food if what you are served and what is pictured is not the same thing.
We're wishing the best for Broadway cuz their ice cream alone merits a second visit, and we're hoping the things we critiqued above are just little hiccups associated with being brand spanking new. The food was yummy despite the above critiques, the staff were friendly despite their very understandable nerves, and the sheer size of the outdoor deck will certainly make for some great ice cream afternoons once winter ends. Good luck!
Broadway Grill and Bar
Fortin Arce on the Corner of Monseñor River
(the Cristo, across from Burger King)