Restaurants & Bars

MarPlata(North of Puerto Vallarta) report

chazzerking | Jan 28, 200802:45 PM

Last week we were in PV for our annual January siesta/drunk and as a result of reading last month's Conde Nast Traveler, we decided to trek North to San Francisco(or San Pancho, depending on whom you ask) which is about 10 miles north of Salulita or about 45 miles norht of PV to MarPlata, one of only 2 restaurants in Mexico to be listed in the annual "Hot Tables" article.The first problem that we encounter was that MarPlata isn't actually in San Pancho, but rather in the adjoining hamlet of Costa Azul. It took several attempts asking locals on the street who hadn't heard of the place. We finally ducked into a real estate office and were directed to the restaurant. Which brought us to glitch number two. I had called ahead to check on attire and reservations as there were 7 of us and we didn't want to get stuck waiting. I was reminded that there was a time zone differential between PV and SP, so we made our reservation for 5:30 local time. (a note of explanation, my parents who are 86 and 83, were going too, so early dinner time was necessary especially as we expected to have a few drinks beforehand) I wa a little concerned as we finally arrived, as it was about 5 til 6, but to my surprise, they weren't even open yet, despite taking reservations for a half hour earlier. The place is definitely not handicap accesible, being located at the top of a long flight of stairs, presenting an daunting but overcomeable(to coin a word) obstacle for the older folks, but at about 6:10 everone finally got situated.
The place is intereting visually, with a view of the surf and ocean, and is constructed of "recovered" / recycled materials, The tables were old sunbleached mexican traditional doors and mix and match chairs of wildly varying styles. the open kitchen was set on the south side of the dining room with a tiled bar between. Our waiter, a pleasant young Belgian explained that they were out of several items, as all the ingredients were fresh and local, except for the tuna when i asked about how it was prepared, I was advised that it was the only thing not fresh but flash frozen. We had drinks that were well made and 3 of us shared a bottle of Caitty NV Brut Champagne which was pleasant but unremarkable. we then had fried calamari with 2 sauces, on a chipotle coctail sauce and the other a raita but wiht the cucumber grated in long threads, making dipping kind of hard. the squid was relatively tasteless, athough crispy and the extremely uniform strips made me think that here again, ther may have been an exception to the "all fresh, all local" rule.
The menu was entirely a la carte, but with an interesting assortment of sides available, but the selection of entrees was rather ordinary. we had grilled giant shrimp, (overcooked to the point of significant charring) seared tuna in tomato"emulsion"( a simple thick tomato cream sauce) which was cooked properly but not very exciting, a sirloin strip, (argentine-style grass fed) which was pretty tender and flavorful, and a duck confit, also well made but uninspiring. the other entree was "truffled wild mushroom" paperdelle, ; good but not much truffle present. the sides that I tasted were the pureed potatoes with apple compote,(good with lots of fresh parsley chopped into the potatoes which had not been overcooked and had some good oomph; the fried polenta, which was crisp, but nothing else, sauteed green beans with garlic and almonds, which were blanched and served whole with garlic butter and sliced almonds, pretty good; spinach and cream, (steak house style but very fresh and not overcooked) and grilled veggies, consisting of red and green peppers, zuccini and portabella sliced, probably the best of the sides, grilled hot and quickly and sprinkled with EVO.
the only dessert ordered was a fruit and chocolate fondue, which was good if again unexciting. the fruit offered were apples, kiwis, bananas, and plums with a dark chocolate ganache dip. not bad a t all but not great either. Prices ended up about $30-40 per, plus drinks. reasonable, but overall, quite a disappointment, given the anticipation. there are at least 4 or 5 better restaurants in PV and a couple in Bucerias that we passed on th way. I'll be sending a note to CNT expressing my disappointment with their reccomnedation shortly.

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