Café des Artistes

May Restaurant Festival, May 15-31, 2014

Guadalupe Sánchez 740 at Leona Vicario DT.
6:30 – 11:30 pm

We visited this world-famous restaurant on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Long-reputed by many diners as Puerto Vallarta’s top spot, the 2012 International 5* Diamond Award from American Academy of Hospitality Sciences [14 straight years] owner/chef/Maître Cuisinier de France, one of Mexico’s top chefs, Thierry Blouet [also Café des Artistes del Mar] presents Mexican-French cuisine since 1990. World renowned, Gourmand Magazine 2011 Guide to Restaurants Best Restaurant in Mexico and Cocína de Autor Second Best, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine 2005 Hot Tables and Nestle Food Group’s one of the 80 Best Restaurants in the World, is formal and upscale with attentive, unobtrusive service. In the non-rainy season, enjoy dining in the beautiful terraced well-established garden area.

Many exquisite choices were offered on their May Restaurant Week festival menu. First was Beef Carpaccio with Caesar Salad. It was a combination plate of two “reliables”, here made to perfection. High quality beef was sliced thinly and served carpaccio with a huge Caesar salad dressed with a crisp, forward vinaigrette. Shavings of Reggiano Parmigiano provided sharpness to each forkful.

Escargot Ravioli consisted of soft fresh pasta stuffed with minced escargot, garlic slivers, butter, parsley and poblano pepper. A light mushroom frittata complimented the pasta, drizzled with a red bell pepper-basil sauce. Never had some diners experienced this combination which worked smoothly and deliciously.

The presentation of Light Cream of Brussels Sprout-Pea Soup was surprisingly fabulous. A wine glass half-filled with a mint emulsion foam laden with bits of tofu. When all others had received their starter, the waiter poured a milky green soup into the foam. Vapor spouting out showed that the soup was hot. Once again Thierry showed his masterpiece of creativity, venturing into untouched, unexplored territory. Flavors were light yet bold.

All three of the Main Courses were special, imaginative and pleasing. Marinated Organic Salmón and Squid in Ink with broiled huitlacoche brought a fillet brushed with adobo, then grilled lightly, leaving the flesh moist, flaky and slightly sweet. The corn fungus was minced and mixed with the squid ink, making a wonderful compliment with a garlic foam cloud, cherry tomato sauce, chorizo cubes and edamame. This was yet another unique combination of texture, color and taste.

Poblana-style Stuffed Organic Chicken arrived as a large boneless half chicken, except for the drumlette, from which spilled rice, raisins, corn and chorizo accented by black mole sauce. A gratin christophine (chayote) supplied tropical softness. The meat was moist but not fatty.

Grilled Argentinean Steak al carbón arrived as four thick juicy slices on a solid firm plate, not metal too hot to touch. The meat possessed a full rich beefy flavor. Many diners opted for this offering particularly due to receiving a large steak at a fantastic price. Alongside was a layered potato and bacon tarte tartin and a row of sparkling lightly grilled vegetables: red bell pepper, tomato, zucchini, nopales and wild mushrooms. In the center of the platter was a pinch of sea salt for accent and accompanied with a tall shot glass of red wine sauce highlighted by rich beef stock and offered to pour over the meat. This was a top culinary exercise in the art of preparing beef.

Desserts were, as expected, creative, attractive and refreshing, especially on this warm evening. In the garden, summer has arrived but not yet the cooling breezes.
Bailarina Rouge-Exotic was composed of a raspberry mousse over a flourless chocolate biscuit surrounded by blackberries and strawberries. Upside down and rising from the mousse was a crisp cookie formed as two dancer legs, which has become Thierry’s signature image on a yearly dessert.

Hazelnut Mille Feuille Cake (thousand leaves) is a vanilla custard slice known as Napoleon which is layers of puff pastry alternated with pastry cream, topped with white chocolate icing and chocolate swirling strokes. House-made ice cream was flavored with the essence of passion fruit, roses and litchi (lychee). Very light and delicate.

Milk Caramel Crème Brulée came topped with guanabana (soursop) sorbet and fried buñuelos. The custard was creamy with its top crusted from a kitchen flame. Slightly tangy fruit flavors added dimension with the fantastic cookies reaching from the dish.

Another option is to upgrade for 100 pesos more with dishes as dried fideo with shrimp and chipotle stew, traditional prawn and pumpkin cream soup (on the menu for 23 years), organic duck pasilla-hazelnut quinoa and roasted sea bass.

For those persons in the Bahía de Banderas area wishing for a gourmet experience without the high prices, now is the time to make a reservation here for the interior dining area or outside garden. Then, sit back, relax and enjoy their fine cuisine.

Gary R.Beck
Puerto Vallarta, JAL.

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