Bolivian Restaurant Review: La Palette - Santa Cruz, Bolivia
by Trent Wauson
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)
La Palette Review: We went for lunch yesterday because we saw a posting on FB about a lunch special. It turned out to be a delightful choice! We started with a vegetable soup, delicate and creamy. At first I thought it was bland, then I realized something remarkable: Chef Francois Sanmarti cooks with very little salt and allows his customers to add it according to their own tastes. (This idea can be a rarity in Bolivia) I did this along with a fresh grind of pepper and it came alive!
Next came a plate of tilapia (fish) fresh and cooked to perfection, toasted outside and still firm, not undercooked or overcooked, served un a bed of stir-fried vegetables and topped with the perfect amount of a delicate creamy garlic sauce. A WOW factor of five out of a possible five for this dish! I asked for something picante and our chef sent out a portion of some delicately picante peppers soaked in virgen olive oil. What a pleasant surprise in a country where they usually bring a bottle of pepper sauce or a blended llajua of aji and water. We added some to our side of rice with parsley and it turned into heaven. Again the chef left it to us to add salt or pepper on all which we did to our taste. The dish was plentiful, but turned me to gluttony so I ordered yet a another plate of tilapia and finished that off with sighs of pleasure.
Dessert was included, a frozen plate (literally the whole plate) with a beautiful, made in house ice cream of tropical fruits with a strawberry sauce frozen to the side on the plate that required chipping away with our spoons to mix in to each bite. Fun, different and delicious!
The surroundings are minimalist with wood chairs and tables that spread out onto the outside terrace of a walled garden displaying tropical plants and trees as well as a luxuriant growth of grass. The inside is air conditioned, but has an excellent view of the garden, very well lit. I will tick off a few days very the sake of decorum, then hurry back.
(La Palette Gourmet Francais is located at 284 Calle Nicholas Ortiz, esquina 5 Oeste, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. You can find their page on Facebook and any other information you can ask the chef, Francois Sanmarti directly, he is a member of the Expats in Bolivia group). Below is a photo of him, he is truly one of a few "topgun" chefs in Santa Cruz!
-------------------------------------------Note from webmaster:
Trent Wauson, of San Antonio, Texas and his wife Rosario, of Cochabamba, Bolivia own the Posada del Sol Hotel and Luna Verde Resto-Bar in Samaipata, Bolivia. We thank Trent for his frequent reviews of Bolivian restaurants. A chef himself, Trent is well qualified to review food fare and we're grateful for his contributions.