Monday, May 17, 2010

Romantic Meal with a Sunset Backdrop

There are many places to eat in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico in the Pacific state of Guerrero. However if you are looking for a romantic dinner, a setting sun backdrop, excellent service and a menu that could place you in almost any major city in the world, then you might want to head to Villa de la Selva.

Up the hill from the Las Brisas resort on the Ixtapa side of the area, Villa de la Selva has a three tiered dining area on a hillside overlooking the crashing waves. Views of the beach at Las Brisas, most of the Playa El Palmar beach and the point by the Ixtapa Marina frame your views on the right side as you look towards the water. Piped in music seems to come from the trees and if you arrive early you can take a well-maintained foot path to the rocky shore to see the waves up close.

The first dinner reservation is at 7 pm and from late spring through fall it can still be downright hot at that hour - so come at 7:15 pm or 7:30 pm if you prefer a little less sun after an entire day at the beach.

Unfortunately the wine list although extensive is outrageously priced. Forget paying 3 times retail for a bottle of wine - these are all 4 to 5 times or higher - hard to swallow no matter how much cash is burning a hole in your pocket. Stick with the mixed drinks - priced at about 110 Mex. pesos apiece they are a much better bargain and many are made with Havana Club rum from Cuba - currently unavailable in the US.

The starters or appetizers are your best bet. They have an extensive list of offerings that all sounded delicious. We highly recommend making a meal of two appetizers per person and sharing a dessert. The warm rosemary accented dinner rolls with butter were a nice change from totopes (tortilla chips) served elsewhere.

Caesar salads are prepared table-side in the classic fine dining tradition. It was tasty but for our liking it lacked garlic and was an oilier and less creamy version than those to which we are accustomed.

A duet of tostadas with seafood was very light and yet quite flavorful. Two perfectly crisp corn tortilla bases came in two treatments - one with soy, sesame and wasabi accented tuna, the other with a shrimp and avocado medley with flavored  red onion, bits of tomato, cilantro and a subtle chipotle aioli.

The main dishes we ordered were less successful and left us wishing we had ordered differently. The fish trio was very fresh but nothing special. It featured salmon with a green pepper and nut sauce, dorado with a red pepper chipotle sauce and tuna with a soy-ginger sauce. It came with crispy fried spinach leaves and corn (elote) dotted mashed potatoes - but the potatoes were heavy and dragged down the dish. Even though we had specifically requested the tuna be cooked very rare it was cooked to medium and became slightly dry.

The Villa de la Selva fish was a large piece of grilled dorado topped with shrimp and béarnaise sauce served on rice. The shrimp had a strong iodine flavor that overpowered, the béarnaise was slightly broken and the dorado was lost in the mix. Not bad but again nothing memorable.

Although we were split on how we felt about the food itself we agreed that the atmosphere and setting was spectacular. If we were to return we certainly would take a different approach to our menu choices.

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