We wanted to go to Manolo Caricol (MC) because it had good reviews, was recommended by the hotel concierge and was featured on "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain. We were walking around old town, it was getting late (around 9pm, but not late for Panama) and MC was closed for a private party, so we decided to go to Cafe Rene as it had decent reviews on Trip Advisor. We arrive to sit down and it seemed clean and nice enough. There was one other couple finishing up their meal, but otherwise it was empty. Not a good sign. The waiter/owner explained it was a prix-fixe meal of 5 courses including wine. We thought. "great". We asked what were the courses and he explained pasta appetizer, ceviche, garden salad, fish dish, etc. The reason I write etc. is because we did not get that far.
They initially brought us each a glass of wine that was actually pretty good, so we thought, Ok we're off to a good start. Then they bring out this past appetizer that I'm telling you, was chef-boy-ardee ravioli from the can. We were so stunned and shocked, we were not sure what to do. Starved as we were, we both tasted the dish and pushed it to the side. Horrible! Flavorless canned ravioli that was cold in the center! We told them we did not like it, so they brought the next course which was a garden salad. No kidding, here, wilted lettuce and a few slices of tomatoes drenched in oil and vinegar. Pathetic! It looked like a dressed salad you might have left over from dinner and try to save but come back the next day to find it wilted and unedible. That is precisely what we were served. It looked so bad we did not even attempt to eat it. The breaking point that forced us to run was when they brought out a ceviche dish. It was a small bowl filled with canned tuna, with chopped white onions on top. That's it. I kid you not. We could not believe it. At that point it was clear that the owner, who was our waiter was a complete jerk for having the audacity to serve us this crap. We were insulted, hungry and angry. We tried to leave without paying for this crap and he threatened to call the police. I threw some money at him and we left with the quickness.
We're not so much of fine diners that we cannot eat at and enjoy an economy restaurant, but this was the absolute worst meal experience I have ever encountered in a public restaurant bar none. I would never recommend this dump to anyone let alone my worst enemy. This place should be closed immediately,the staff fired and the owner banned from the restaurant business.
We took no photos as there were none worth taking.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.