Sunday, November 09, 2008

HACIENDA SAN ANGEL – Puerto Vallarta

Hacienda San Angel is a collection of villas at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains overlooking Banderas Bay. These amazing villas create 14 elegant suites impeccably restored with exquisite antiques and all the modern amenities you would expect to find in a member of "Small Luxury Hotels of the World." The immaculate gardens, 3 pristine pools and a roof-top jacuzzi are a breathtaking treat. No detail too insignificant - the hand soap in the restroom near the breakfast terrace resembles individual yellow rose petals! This eden is hidden behind very high walls running along a narrow cobblestone street tucked in the hill above the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Friends from the States flew in to spend some time with me in my corner of paradise! This would be my second visit to the property; I knew they would be impressed with this incredible collection of villas. It was only in the last 2+ years that the restaurant was opened to the public. Until then, you needed to be an overnight guest of the villa to dine.

It had sporadically rained the hour before our reservation at 8p. We were asked to wait in a large antique filled living room. When we arrived, I was surprised that our table was not ready. After a 15-minutes wait, we were taken to the 2nd floor terrace dining room believing our table was ready. At this point, I learned our table was still on the exposed terrace. It needed to be reset under the extended roof. We were left to stand among diners as the staff readied our table.

We arrived to find an elegant outdoor dining room of guests from around the world. I could easily hear 4 or 5 different languages being spoken as I walked through the dining terrace. When we were taken to our table, our chairs were still wet. This was very awkward. I would have expected, at least, the offer of a beverage while we waited for the second time.

We began with a wonderful bottle (actually 2) of a Mexican cab-merlot from the Casa Madero vineyards. Slightly sweet with a hint of black cherry. Soon after a basket of fresh, hot bread arrived... the anticipation began to build.

I began with the Lobster salad & grilled watermelon – the petite mound of greens mixed with shredded lobster hid a center of chopped lobster. The thin slice of watermelon was sprinkled with paprika and quickly grilled. Simply divine! For my next course, I chose the shrimp coconut soup. The pureed shrimp and light coconut milk base had a single scrumptious shrimp dumpling in the center of the bowl.

For my entrée, I selected the Angus filet mignon, cooked to perfection! The slightly charred filet accompanied a stacked serving of sautéed spinach leaves and paper thin slices of roasted garlic resting on thin slices of white fingerling potatoes. This is the first and only time I have found individuals leaves of sautéed spinach to be painstakingly stacked prior to serving. A port reduction sauce and a poblano chili sauce were artistically placed on my plate. Superb!

For dessert, I had the crème brulee with a slightly sweet wild berry sauce; again a gorgeous presentation of a creamy delight!

My friends and I agree; the meal was incredible.

Our table was the last to leave. I found it odd and rude to have had the wonderful background music disappear and the staff resetting the dining room and moving furniture while we finished a dinner that was close to $400 USD. Apparently, the owner with her incredible attention to detail was not on the property this evening. Yes, I will return, but with different expectations.

Mmm, Mmm, Mmm...


$ 10
$$ 20
$$$ 30
$$$$ 40+

+ Stop bothering me!
++ Anyone here?
+++ Stopped when in the area.
++++ As needed and friendly.
+++++ Invisibly perfect!

✦ “One visit too many!”
✦✦ “Convince me!”
✦✦✦ “I’ll be back!”
✦✦✦✦ “Same table next week!”

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