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Featured Restaurant – El Barco at Capitán Suizo

Featured Restaurant – El Barco at Capitán Suizo

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Before the fabulous tastes comes an exquisite sense of place. El Barco Restaurant offers some of Tamarindo’s finest dining, but before your first bite you will be enchanted by the beachfront beauty that is Capitán Suizo, a boutique hotel full of lush gardens in a seaside forest.

As you emerge from the magnificent foyer, an outdoor stairway leads to a softly illuminated garden path. Approaching the restaurant, in the space where poolside and seaside converge, you hear mellow background music that complements the sound of waves crashing on the beach.

Inside El Barco, the decor contributes to an atmosphere of home-cooked intimacy and coziness, offset by the open-air breeziness. Just the right blend of classic Old World charm and laidback contemporary chic adds up to a casual fine dining experience, with an attentive but never intrusive staff treating you like a guest of honor.

Rachael Kershaw, food and beverage manager, said El Barco’s menu criteria for organic, local, fresh, and made-from-scratch cuisine are as vital as the ingredients themselves. The recruitment of Jujo Molina as executive chef in 2016 has proven to be an ideal match in that regard.

“Yo no engaño cuando cocino” — “I don’t cheat when I cook” — is how Molina describes his culinary heritage.

Molina eschews artificial embellishments and any other non-essential ingredients when cooking. It’s his assurance that the organic main ingredient flavors are neither changed nor upstaged when each dish is created. Imagine raving about the nutty, bitter taste of escarole in its own right, when a salad is dressed only with a sprinkling of lime juice and salt. Or the velvety sweetness of a chocolate brownie made with no flour. These and other astonishing demonstrations of Molina’s “less is more” principle awaited us on the evening we visited El Barco.

Our culinary odyssey was launched with the offer of signature cocktails. Four on the menu are original staff creations, including the margarita tica, sweetened with a homemade syrup.

With every course came the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes, as pleasing to the eye as they were to our taste buds. We found ourselves staring at each plate momentarily before anyone would take the first bite, so clean, colorful and creative was the presentation of food elements.

Queso de cabra featured organic goat cheese from Playa Avellanas, served warm over a homemade tomato marmalade with fresh foccacia bread, and an arugula, escarole and basil salad. Fresh mahi-mahi was the centerpiece of carpaccio del Pacífico, served raw in thin slices with extra virgin olive oil, pink pepper and fresh dill harvested from Capitán Suizo’s own organic garden. Vieiras picante y dulce offered mouth-watering proof of chef Molina’s finesse in combining complementary natural flavors to enhance, but not overpower, the star ingredient: 15 scallops seared in a light paprika butter served on homemade banana bread with chocolate sauce.

The lomito entree was another example of Jujo’s “natural wonder” abilities. Beef tenderloin with a ginger and tamarind gravy is served with vegetables and Roland’s Rösti, a traditional Swiss dish. El Barco’s version of the flat potato pancake is bound by nothing except the potato’s natural starch. In reina del Pacífico, grilled filet of sea bass lies on a bed of barley risotto with homemade basil, almond, parmesan and olive oil green pesto served with garden vegetables. Caldereta de mariscos is a family recipe for octopus, calamari, mussels and jumbo shrimp stew. The homemade Mediterranean sauce consists of fresh tomatoes, thyme, basil and rosemary.

For dessert, we savored the creamy coconut panna cotta and the aforementioned brownie sin harina, a cold, flourless chocolate fondant garnished with whipped cream and fresh berries coulis. A refreshing lime mousse with Oreo crumble provided a lighter touch.

Born and raised in Gijon, a small community in northern Spain with a rich culinary legacy, Molina started learning about gastronomy from his mother at age 13. His earliest exposure to international cuisine was in London, Italy, France and Portugal, and he’s also worked at restaurants in Argentina, Chile and the U.S.

He’s a strong believer in the creative potential for adapting international menu classics to local products and tastes.

“Cooking is about feeling as much as knowledge,” he said.

El Barco serves up a sense of enchantment

Hotel Capitán Suizo, Playa Tamarindo

Hours
Daily: noon to 9:30pm

Phone: 2653-0075

Specialties
Healthy dishes made from scratch with local and fresh products.

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Description

El Barco Del Capitán is nestled in the beautiful garden of the Hotel Capitán Suizo and offers a modern, healthy and fresh cuisine. The restaurant is open to the public for lunch, snacks and dinner. The chef, Jujo Molina, created his dishes inspired by his European roots and the incredible nature that surrounds him here in Costa Rica. Using products from the on-site organic garden and local producers, he creates entirely homemade plates with no additives or preservatives to offer healthy meals every day, every time.

Starters

Ensalada Pulpo (Lunch) $18
Octopus, capers, green olives, tomato
carpaccio with paprika vinaigrette

Tacos Dorado (Lunch) $16
Mahi-mahi, tortillas with mixed cabbage
salad, pineapple-basil and tartare sauce

The Veggie (Lunch) $15
Grilled portobello, tomato, zucchini, chilealmonds-
garlic sauce, homemade bun

Fish Pita (Lunch) $17
Pita, grilled mahi-mahi, cucumber, carrot,
dill yogurt, green leaf side salad

Main

Arroz con Pollo (Lunch) $14
Traditional rice with chicken, black
beans, plantains, yucca, cabbage salad

Calamares Crujientes (Snack) $13
Crispy calamari with homemade green
pesto and a honey, red onion escabèche.

Carpaccio (Dinner) $13
Mahi-mahi carpaccio with extra virgin olive
oil, dill and pink pepper

Tres Vegetales (Dinner) $10
Roasted eggplant-red peppers-onion
tartare with homemade garlic bread

Specials

Vieiras (Dinner) $15
Scallops seared in paprika butter, homemade
banana bread, chocolate sauce

Rollo Pollo (Dinner) $20
Chicken stuffed with mango, asparagus and
bacon, potato puree

Linguini (Dinner) $23
Calamari, jumbo shrimps, mussels, Spanish
chorizo, cherry tomatoes, white wine

Polenta (Dinner) $19
White portobello mushrooms, creamy porcini
broth, polenta tartlette, asparagus

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