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San Juan Report on Marmalade & Loquillo

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I'm sorry to be the dissenting voice, but having returned from my weekend in PR, I feel like I have to post mho. We drove the hour from El Conquistador resort to San Juan anticipating a marvelous meal at Marmalade. Maybe our expectations were too high. The place looked nice enough, but a little shabby -- peeling paint, exposed wires, water stains on the ceiling. Not a big deal, but surprising (although, again, we may have expected too much). More importantly, the food was...fine. We each got a four course tasting menu and except for the signature white bean soup almost everything else was good enough, but not great. Each dish seemed to have at least one ingredient that was a little off. The gnocchi were lovely but the accompanying short ribs, while tasty, were tough and chewy, while the garnish of beet crisps stuck in the sauce were superfluous and soggy. The ceviche was fresh enough, but overpowered by grapefruit. The red snapper poached in a clear plastic bag came to the table in the bag where it was delicately snipped open under a deftly tied bow, leaving me a plate full of plastic bag which kept nipping at my sleeve cuffs as I ate. Even the dessert of warm strawberry crumble was rather nondescript stewed berries with a couple of slabs of pie crust mixed into it. Everyone else has raved so much about the place that I have to think it might have just been an off night. That said, I have to add while the food was disappointing, the service was lovely. The staff was friendly and attentive and in spite of the fact that we've eaten better, we had a perfectly nice time.

For me, the real find in PR was Loquillo Beach. On the advice of our concierge we went to Il Parillo which is probably kiosk no. 2 or 3. We had a fabulous meal of whole steamed snapper, stuffed with rice and squid cooked in its own ink. The young friendly waiter explained the native dishes like mofongo etc and we had a little of everything. The drinks were delicious, the food was great and the cost was cheap. We were surrounded by happy Puerto Rican families and could see the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. For local color and food, couldn't be beat.

As for the El Conquistador, the resort is fine but don't eat there if you don't have to. As others have said, the restaurants are over priced as are most hotel restaurants, but worse, the food is just plain bad. The outside bars have good drinks and stupendous views, but get a car and get out if you can.

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  1. Loquillo sounds amazing..sorry about Marmalade..what a disappointment..wow...

    1. I too just retrd and agree re marmalade, staff and Peter the chef were great, had the 5 course tasting w/wines food waas 2star but too rich and not cooked to order, wines were great but pours were very small,too expensive for the quality.Went to la perla the next nite,food was 3 star but no zing, nrxt time I'll stick to the local places. THhe best was the hotel La Concha atrue 5 star experience.

      1. Sorry you didn't have a good time at Marmalade.

        Just for search purposes, the restaurant is called La Parilla in the town of Luquillo. It is the second kiosk.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Needle

          Thanks, Miss Needle. It did occur to me that it made no sense for the restaurant to be named "Il" anything, since it's Spanish and not Italian. I pondered that for a minute before typing it in incorrectly anyway. Shame on me. I'll check next time. Whatever the name, whatever the number, the food was yummy.