The people behind this restaurant have their hearts in the right place and obviously know something about food and style. There is a vision at work and it certainly takes some daring to distance yourself so far from most hotels—I like that!
The problem is that running a restaurant is not the same thing as going out to eat in one or even entertaining at home for friends. As a result Café Elysa comes off like an amateur production where they had all these great ideas and just fired them all off at once without thinking about how they all fit together. There’s a saying that as chefs get more experienced, they learn to cook with fewer ingredients and I would suggest a similar course of action for this restaurant. Not ingredients per se, but finding the true identity that they are as a restaurant and then focusing solely on those areas. Simplify. Refine. Forget trying to dazzle.
The dishes are all over the place and all the nice paintings and soft lighting cannot make up for the disharmony throughout the menu. My guests were excited to try an adobo dish that had the addition of dried fish. In concept, not bad, taking a page from Europe and this region but we all agreed that the version served was so overpowering with the latter that the nice aspects in the former were lost. It’s a perfect example of the overall issue I had with Café Elysa, which I think holds promise, but needs to grow up a lot more, to pass through this youthful discovery phase, and to mature as a restaurant.
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