Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Marantina Gastro Lounge is another not-to-be-missed place to visit during Restaurant Week 2011. Located just half a block from Los Muertos Beach, this stylish yet relaxed venue offers a creative list of fusion bites, specialty martinis, and some of the best cocktails in Vallarta.
Owner Mercedes Guillen Baumgarten's culinary concept of fusing Central and Southern Mexico cuisine with French influences results in an innovative menu featuring international dishes served in an eclectic atmosphere that is loungey and sophisticated with a laid-back attitude.
Aqua green, white and red themed cool colors invite one inside. A long banquette with huge black and white pillows faces a row of tables, each with two chairs. An elegantly designed bar and lounge area greets guests upon entry, pleasant for a cocktail while waiting for seating in the air-conditioned dining room or the candlelit outdoor garden terrace by Villa Mercedes' pool.
Chef Armando Nuño Pelayo brings his local fame to this fine dining locale. He is creative and most talented, as dishes, one after another, were impressive.
A tropical starter appeared while perusing the menu. The sampling composed of mango, panela cheese, mint and strawberry excited the taste buds and prepared them for a meal of flavors. Reduced balsamic vinegar, chile essence and basil oil lay in circles on the display for dipping.
All of the appetizers on Marantina's Restaurant Week Menu sounded tempting, but we chose:
Tuna Tartare: Fresh chunks of tuna had been marinated in an Asian base of soy sauce, ginger, garlic and lime. Atop were many cubes of avocado and plantain adding coolness to the creation. The dish was similar to ceviche and very delicious and tender.
Tortilla Soup: Restaurants are judged for their tortilla soup by some diners. Here it was unusual, but very good. The tomato-guajillo chile stock had been made slightly thick by folding in blended tortilla. In it were chunks of panela cheese and avocado, garnished with thin strips of crisp tortillas. Pasilla and Chipotle added authentic essences. A palate pleaser.
Main courses tasted on this trip were:
Crab Cake with Quince Jam: One large golden brown perfectly fried cake full of shredded crab meat and vegetables was presented with portions of jellied quince jam and a smooth creamy tartar sauce. Firm cake yet soft and sweet inside.
Duck Confit Enchiladas: Three soft flour tortillas stuffed with panela, covered with a rich molé enhanced with apple and covered with a thinly sliced apple salad. A bowl of the shredded duck was alongside and was used to fill the tortillas.
Desserts offered on the special festival menu were all sampled:
Chocolate-Tequila Ice Cream: Delicious helado highlighted by chunks of fresh strawberry. A beautiful combination of flavors.
Guava Crème Brûlée: Crisp and creamy made tropical with the addition of guava (guayaba) pieces.
Rustic Apple Tart (Tarta Rústuca de Manzana): The crust was the stand out. It was cookie-like, soft, crumbly and delicious in its own right. Soft baked spiced apple slices lay in the center with vanilla ice cream on the side accented by drizzles of caramel syrup brought the dessert full circle. There was discussion of a whole tart to-go.
In addition to serving vintage cocktails and a great selection of wines, the accomplished and awarded bartender concocts a broad array of cocktails, from martinis and margaritas of all kinds to specialty drinks like the Hawaiian Bear - Piña ahumada (smoked pineapple), Havana Club 7 años rum, Cointreau (licor de Naranjas an orange liqueur) and lime juice.
Indulge in a casual-chic night out with gastro bites and signature cocktails at Marantina Gastro Lounge. The friendly and attentive service staff is most happy to meet and greet you.
Open Monday – Saturday from 5 pm to 12 midnight, Marantina Gastro Lounge is located just half a block from Los Muertos Beach at Pulpito #120 on the south side of Puerto Vallarta. For more information, call (322) 223-4765 or visit Marantina.com.
The author was supplied one choice in each of the 3 courses on the special Restaurant Week menu and this review is in no way connected to his independent restaurant guide, "Puerto Vallarta Restaurant Guide Beck's Best", where write-ups receive no compensation.
Restaurant Week continues through May 31st at some of the most recognized restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. For a list of participating restaurants and Restaurant Week 2011 reviews click HERE.