The front of this restaurant is very impressive - a glass front wall with stencilled white letters in front of a manicured lawn and elegant terrace.
We arrived at around 8:00 p.m. on a Monday night and the restaurant was unsurprisingly empty. We chose to sit on the balmy terrace rather than the air-conditioned area inside and it was not long before the first of 10 (or was it 11?) helicopters of the evening swooped overhead.
Our order got off to a bad start when we were informed that they did not have lemons to make the lemonade and we needed to select something else. I am not sure whether they did "find" lemons in the end or ran to the shop to get some but either way we were pleased to be presented with a pitcher of lemonade, fully worth the wait.
We were given Parmesan crackers and freshly-baked sourdough bread to nibble on whilst we waited for our food. We raved about the bread and more arrived, indeed at the end of our meal we were given 3 to take away as they had not been consumed that evening.
We ordered a starter of sushi which was perfectly acceptable however the nori was a bit tough and made eating an inelegant affair. The "wasabi" might have been radish dyed green, and we were not sure about the pickled ginger; however, this was the only fault we could find with any of the food during the evening.
The food menu was lengthy and varied, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. The main meals were divided into pasta dishes, meats, game (bird) and seafood. The prices ranged from 50Bs for a simple pasta dish to over 100Bs for a seafood dish.
To illustrate the varied menu available I will list our choices (with verdicts) below:
* Basil pesto risotto with grilled baby octopus and huge prawns: delicious, seafood certainly tasted fresh rather than frozen
* Tilapia fish
with polenta puree and a mushroom and grilled pepper relish: lovely dish
* Pork ribs with Guapurú a very dark purple berry
: the star of the show
* Lomito (steak) with cognac sauce, and a lettuce, sunflower seed and tomato salad served with potato mil hojas (mille feuille): meat came medium rare as requested
* Fusilli with fresh basil pesto: simple and tasty
The food was beautifully presented and we learned everything is prepared in-house, by or under the supervision of Ines herself.
I should add that we ate almost everything and that which we couldn't manage, the staff graciously packaged for us in takeaway containers.
The final bill came to just over 600Bs (around US$87) for our group of 3 adults and 3 children consuming 5 main meals between us. However this was without alcohol or coffees and only one dessert. Another 10% added was added to the bill on top of this as a tip. I don't like restaurants doing this, as a tip should be just that; however, the service was excellent when we visited and they certainly deserved it.
Ines used to present a lunchtime cookery show and cuts a very glamorous figure in real life she came out to talk to some other guests
. I understand that it is a very fashionable place to eat and I can see why, though the prices put it out of reach of much of Santa Cruz.
We shared the restaurant with only two other couples during the evening and it felt very relaxed. The waiting staff did not seem concerned about the children running around the perfect lawn as long as they were not annoying other guests. I am not sure we would have enjoyed it so much, or we would have received such attentive service, on a busier night. The only downside to the evening was the routing of helicopters above our heads (the restaurant is relatively close to airport El Trompillo) but I think if you chose to sit in the beautiful dining room inside you would not notice this sound so much.
If you are looking for a place in Santa Cruz to splash out, or to celebrate a special occasion, I think this restaurant would be a great choice.
Open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. for breakfast (Bolivian style), also serving lunch and dinner. Address: Av. Ejercito Nacional #497 (one block from the Tahuichi Aguilera Stadium). Return to the May 2011 BELLA NEWS E-zine