Café des Artistes – Best Restaurants of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The 20th Annual Festival Gourmet International is taking place this November 13-23. Carlos Gaytán of Café des Artistes in Puerto Vallarta is one of the guest chefs. In early October of this year I had the opportunity to have an extraordinary dinner at Café des Artistes; let me tell you about it, in case you are thinking about attending the event.
You would not know you are eating at one of the top restaurants in Puerto Vallarta from the exterior, in old town. Don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t look bad, but very unassuming for what you get when you enter.
The door is opened and you are led through a small hallway to an open room, where you are greeted with music presented on a grand piano with an accompanying violin. It fills the room.
We were led past several tables of jovial folks, dressed to the hilt. Our table was located in a small room with walls of hanging glass tear-drops that wound their way up the walls and toward the ceiling, to make a sort of chandelier that opened on our table.
The featured drink was a mango margarita. Incredible, delicious. But there was more…
The first course was a three cheese salad: goat cheese crusted with corn, gorgonzola and cotija cheese, with lettuce, pear, pecan and macadamia nuts. A small portion but rich and plenty, especially considering what was next.
Second course was Chef Thierry’s prawn and pumpkin cream soup. Very festive for the fall season, but this delicious concoction is not served only in the fall; it has been on the menu for 24 years! The presentation is equally festive; expect your server to deliver the soup to your bowl from a real pumpkin.
For the main course I was served a roasted sea bass filet with potatoes along with confit turnip, perfumed with aniseed, and spinach custard and fine herb sauce. The most delicious fish I have ever eaten! Scalloped potatoes layered atop the filet gave the look of fish scales, and kept the fish moist with a fresh texture and flavor. I ate more slowly than I ever have, savoring each perfect bite.
Each course came decorated as well as it tasted, almost to the point that I felt guilty eating it.
The dessert, called “Café des Artistes Fantasy”, was extravagant and a glut of different sweets including a lemon tart, raspberry mousse, flan (of course) and a coffee/ice cream/chocolate drink. My favorite, the coffee drink, was well worth some sleeplessness. The platter full of sweets was almost as much fun to look at as it was to eat.
I have to say the dessert highlight was not the one we ate, though I am sure it was the tastiest, but the birthday dessert experience. All the servers march in, along with the violinist, singing Las Mañanitas. One of them carries a large dessert with sugar heart-shaped decorations and giant red candles to the lucky recipient. After the song ends and the rest of the restaurant stops clapping, firecrackers go off. A splashy moment that makes all the other diners want to have the same—thusly, there were about six birthday celebrations while we were there.
Regretfully we left the restaurant, visiting the majestic garden, closed during the rainy (slow) season. Though I fancied the tear-drop chandelier, the garden oozed with lovely tropical plants, with exotic lighting and fountains.
At the curb, doors were opened for us and we were off to the hotel, bellies full of satisfaction.
Translated in English “Café des Artistes” means the Restaurant of Artists. From the music, to the ambiance, the delectable meal and the courteous service, this restaurant is a creative, distinctive, and tasty experience.