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“Don't go if.....”
Review of Park Cafe

Park Cafe
Ranked #15 of 643 Restaurants in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $50
Cuisines: International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations
Description: Please read important reservation information on our website before making your booking. Thank you.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Don't go if.....”
Reviewed March 14, 2014

Don't go if you want a big plate of meat and potatoes.
Don't go if you think that presentation is a waste of time.
Don't go if you have a limited palette and won't try new things.
Don't go if you don't understand truly gourmet food.

This is the best restaurant in Costa Rica by a long measure, the chef trained with Joel Robuchon before branching out with his own place in the South of France and now he is here. Eating at Park Cafe is seriously like finding a diamond in a parking lot, you just can't believe your luck. This is food without compromise of any kind, served by professionals and meant to be enjoyed by people that can appreciate it.
Prepare to have your mind blown but do not waste their time and space if you don't get it, go somewhere else. Find the item on the menu that you think that you will enjoy the least and order it, you may have a new favorite food. Bon Appetite.

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Sean D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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286 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Alajuela
Level 6 Contributor
38 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“At our table of 8, were 3 chefs . . .”
Reviewed March 14, 2014

. . . and all of us were blown away by the experience that Louise and Richard put on for us that night. After 12 years in Costa Rica this dinner ranks at the top - in all respects. A new standard which will have us going back soon to try and taste some more of Richard's ideas and try again some of the delicious creations in our memories - shared with friends.

Others have commented on the ambiance - situated on the easy access edge of western San Jose inside what they call an antique store but really seems more like a personal collection of things they like to live with - perfecto!

Others have commented on the staff and owners - the senior waiter was perfect, his helpers were excellent and Louise essentially selected exactly what we would like (and we really didn't care at that point as everything she explained appeared to be exactly what we wanted - how did she do that?), the service all around was flawless - a word I hate to use for a great restaurant but I use it because nobody in our group even realized they were being served - it felt like a big family table at a friends house.

Others have commented on the presentation, the tastes and the creations - I forget exactly the age of the plates but something like a million year old petrified plates became the base for various structures of beauty and creativity. We have been to over-ambitious restaurants where the look and feel of the food you photograph is at the expense of the tastes and textures you remember in your brain. Not at Park Cafe - it all looks great and tastes better than it looks (OK so that's not really possible) - hidden away in nooks and crannies are curious little things that delight and surprise and compliment whatever you thought you were eating. These are ideas from Richard and Louise's travels - but I bet they didn't taste this good when they first came across them.

Others have commented on various specific dishes - we had probably 10 different dishes (who's counting) but the simplest test of the success of a dish is "would you order it again?". Yes we will.

Finally nobody has really commented on the challenges faced by such creativity and passion - it is frankly very difficult to do this gourmet high wire act in Costa Rica. Park Cafe doesn't currently have an equal in the country - a great evening, a wonderful experience. My goodness . . .we'll be back.

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank alajuelanorth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
70 reviews
53 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“oasis of top cuisine”
Reviewed March 11, 2014

Amazing food. Creative compositions and an incredible atmosphere make you understand why you can have a table booking in advance only.

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank jjsmonaco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, California
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Walked into something wonderful”
Reviewed March 5, 2014

Park Cafe, whose name is as understated as its cuisine, delivers beautifully crafted dishes in a lovely setting near the heart of San Jose. If you're touring the area be aware that despite its name and minimal price listed as $10, this is a high-end restaurant for upscale diners and clientele.

This place sort of took us by surprise. We had finished a day of ziplining and were sitting in our hotel looking at maybe a dozen or so other places on TA. Park Cafe was highly rated and deceptively unassuming on TripAdvisor with the lowball minimum price listed and casual name. The "cafe" is really a high-end restaurant situated in a lovely hacienda which doubles as an antique shop and with a beautiful garden area in the center. The $10 minimum is really per tapa (small dish, usually just a few bites) and should really be around $30 to better represent what someone might actually order as a light dinner. We also showed up looking like tourists (nothing too outrageous), but it was late and business seemed to be tapering off anyway so they let us stay.

I found the food itself to be quite interesting. Owner/Chef Richard Neat, who I had later learned had earned a 2 star Michelin rating years ago in the UK, labored diligently to ensure each plate appealed to the eyes as well as the nose and mouth, and brought out our final entree himself. He came off as a bit obsessive-compulsive eccentric in exactly the kind of way you want in a chef, and was hospitable and polite such that we would have difficulty imagining him as the "rabid, pan-throwing, culinary sociopath" he used to describe himself looking back on his previous restaurant in Europe. He even walked us out to a taxi at the end of the night, as we were the last people who left the restaurant.

The plates themselves each came out looking intricately crafted, colorful, layered and complex, with flavors that complemented each other nicely. We enjoyed our tapas which mostly consisted of seafood with duck breast as our final entree along with a moderately priced Chilean Carmenere that went surprisingly well with the food.

The service was downright zealous. Our waiters were quick to pick up empty plates and made sure our water and wine glasses never went empty (until we finished the bottle of wine, of course). It was world-class service at its best, exactly the opposite of what you get in most Latin American restaurants.

All-in-all, this was a fantastic experience and was I'd say the $80USD/each we spent was a hell of a deal for 6 (or was it 8?) tapas, a bottle of wine, a dessert sampler and a cocktail of this caliber. I've spent much more at places like French Laundry in Napa and Le Cirque in Las Vegas and the experience I had at Park Cafe will rank up there with the best of 'em.

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Udo D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Surprise”
Reviewed February 26, 2014

Located on the side & center of a unusual antique store (owned by his girlfriend) the food, presentation, service and ambience were shockingly fabulous. The 3 small plates were certainly plenty to satiate my appetite and topped it off with a terrific dessert. And the wine and after dinner drink also added to the perfection. I'll definitely be back on this trip.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank Gene3316
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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