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San Juan Report on Marmalade & Loquillo

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San Juan Report on Marmalade & Loquillo

lldirect | Nov 13, 2009 12:47 PM

I'm sorry to be the dissenting voice, but having returned from my weekend in PR, I feel like I have to post mho. We drove the hour from El Conquistador resort to San Juan anticipating a marvelous meal at Marmalade. Maybe our expectations were too high. The place looked nice enough, but a little shabby -- peeling paint, exposed wires, water stains on the ceiling. Not a big deal, but surprising (although, again, we may have expected too much). More importantly, the food was...fine. We each got a four course tasting menu and except for the signature white bean soup almost everything else was good enough, but not great. Each dish seemed to have at least one ingredient that was a little off. The gnocchi were lovely but the accompanying short ribs, while tasty, were tough and chewy, while the garnish of beet crisps stuck in the sauce were superfluous and soggy. The ceviche was fresh enough, but overpowered by grapefruit. The red snapper poached in a clear plastic bag came to the table in the bag where it was delicately snipped open under a deftly tied bow, leaving me a plate full of plastic bag which kept nipping at my sleeve cuffs as I ate. Even the dessert of warm strawberry crumble was rather nondescript stewed berries with a couple of slabs of pie crust mixed into it. Everyone else has raved so much about the place that I have to think it might have just been an off night. That said, I have to add while the food was disappointing, the service was lovely. The staff was friendly and attentive and in spite of the fact that we've eaten better, we had a perfectly nice time.

For me, the real find in PR was Loquillo Beach. On the advice of our concierge we went to Il Parillo which is probably kiosk no. 2 or 3. We had a fabulous meal of whole steamed snapper, stuffed with rice and squid cooked in its own ink. The young friendly waiter explained the native dishes like mofongo etc and we had a little of everything. The drinks were delicious, the food was great and the cost was cheap. We were surrounded by happy Puerto Rican families and could see the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. For local color and food, couldn't be beat.

As for the El Conquistador, the resort is fine but don't eat there if you don't have to. As others have said, the restaurants are over priced as are most hotel restaurants, but worse, the food is just plain bad. The outside bars have good drinks and stupendous views, but get a car and get out if you can.

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