When you think of an international culinary experience, do you think of Mexico? How about Puerto Vallarta? If you answered “no”, then you are missing out on a wonderful experience. I recently had the pleasure of dining at the lovely Emiliano’s Restaurant located in the Marina area of Puerto Vallarta. This Four Diamond restaurant is nestled in the luxury all-inclusive Casa Velas boutique hotel.
Entering the grounds of Casa Velas sets the mood for what the evening will be like. The meticulous landscaping, gracious staff, peaceful ambience and attentive service begin when you first enter the property and continue through out the night.
As we wandered the grounds waiting for our friends and family to arrive, we relaxed in the outdoor “lobby” with the surrounding koi pond, colorful flowers and lavish greenery.
Entering Emiliano’s, you first take in the drama of the space with its massive chandelier, two-story dining room and romantic outdoor setting complete with hurricane lamps on each table.
Having been to Mexico many times, I have had the good fortune to dine at some fabulous restaurants. The fact that I am in the housewares, cooking and foodie world makes me a little more particular when it comes to expectations of luxury dining establishments. Emiliano’s and Casa Velas had some big shoes to fill as a result.
Looking over the menu and ultimately, our plates, a number of intriguing facts stood out to me.
- The chef was very creative in his food pairings, utilizing the freshest regional ingredients as much as possible.
- The sauces used in each dish were innovative combinations of flavors and spices.
- Each plate’s presentation was artfully designed.
One of the things you hear quite often is that as diners, we eat first with our eyes. We take in the presented plate as almost a work of art. Each piece on the plate is creatively staged so you see a full picture of what you ordered. Not “this is fish” with these vegetables on the side. As each of us at the table was served, we remarked at the plate’s uniqueness before even tasting the food.
Rack of lamb over polenta with poblano and barbacoa jus
Shrimp marinated in achiote served with huitlacoche risotto with orange glaze
Red snapper, chayote and champagne sauce
Pibil-style salmon with pineapple chutney with cilantro and onion caramelized in xtabentun liqueur
Then we began noticing the subtleness of the sauces on our respective meals. Light, fragrant, filled with flavors native to Puerto Vallarta and Mexico, only enhancing the meat or fish. Spectacular! In some cases, indescribable. Just what WAS in that sauce? So very good.
Cesar salad with creamy achiote dressing, parmesan crisp and grilled shrimp
As a break between courses, we were presented with an individual Caprese salad that not only looked beautiful but tasted even better.
No restaurant meal is ever complete without acknowledging the service we received. At the height of luxury dining is the attention to detail offered by the staff. Given that we arrived with a large table of guests, our waiter and his team had their hands full. However, there was no empty water glass, wine glass or plate left on the table. The team efficiently, subtly and respectfully moved around our table assisting whomever needed something.
When it came to ordering our meals, their willingness to accommodate the preferences of our guests was greatly appreciated and kindly documented. Whether it was food choices or allergies, Emiliano’s team graciously presented a deliciously prepared dish that was customized to the diner’s tastes. Attention to detail once again scores high for both restaurant and guest.
Pumpkin tart with artisanal ice cream
Opera chocolate millefeuille with hazelnut cream
As the meal came to a close, our coffee and desserts were served while we reminisced over our dishes. The most noteworthy comments shared by all were the serenity of the Casa Velas property, the extraordinarily talented Chef (the sauces!) and the outstanding service we received by our waiter and his team. Emiliano’s and the Casa Velas Hotel achieved my definition of what qualifies as luxury dining. And I thank them for that. We will be back and encourage you to make a reservation the next time you are in sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.