Monday, January 22, 2007

MOSTLY can not can't at CANTO DEL MAR in the Marquis Los Cabos

We sadly departed our villa yesterday with the hopes that one of the top hotels in Los Cabos would not be such a letdown. Samuel was the most disappointed to go from a four bedroom villa with private pool and jacuzzi to a 1-bedroom suite with a sofabed for him in the living room, and a wading pool on the balcony. It is, however, quite a beautiful resort here at the MARQUIS LOS CABOS and if the weather would clear up, we would probably be very happy.

After leaving Samuel with Nora, his sitter here for the week, we went two floors down to CANTO DEL MAR, considered one of the top dining spots in the area. The teeny room hold no more than twenty diners, but we were the only two there at 7pm. Another couple appeared at 9pm, but that was it for a Monday night. We asked if Chef Thierry was in, but even he had disappeared due to the truly small crowd. The intimate setting is in a colonial style room with beam ceilings, with an excellent guitarist strumming away, but even Will felt a bit odd with us being the only ones there for two hours. CANTO DEL MAR has no menu, it is basically a verbal choice of two items on the first toe courses, then you have to hope you like the rest of the menu or?

My guess is that the wine list which lists no vintages is printed every several years as they were out of the Franciscan Chardonnay we asked for at $80 a bottle (are they really INSANE here with prices??), so we chose the $70-something WENTE RIVA RIDGE RESERVE 2003 from Monterey, Calif. which was really perfect, if overpriced.

The evening started with our first AMUSE this trip: a mediocre trio of SHRIMP on CARROT SLICE with Shellfish Reduction & Pistachio that was excellent, a Dry overcooked ROAST BEEF with Port Vinaigrette on Cucumber, and a Cream Cheese with Apricot, Black Sesame and Honey/Saffron Sauce (this truly could have come from a tacky party menu).

Will started with the SHELLFISH CANNELONI, Caviar and Fig Vinaigrette which was yummy but I much more adored my FOIE GRAS NAPOLEAN layered with DUCK PROSCIUTTO and served with Grilled Tangerine and Orange, Almonds and a Balsamic Vinaigrette on the Greens. The sad dry brioche and bread accompanying were basically left untouched.

Course #2 was a choice of soups and we both opted for the PUMPKIN SOUP with OPEN ESCARGOT RAVIOLI, Smoked Turkey, Red Pepper (where was that?), Zucchini and Carrot. It was a decent soup, but it needed an influx of Mexican spice for sure.

The local LOBSTER TAIL with PUFF PASTRY, Mashed Potato/Eggplant Puree, Asparagus and White Wine Cream Reduction with Tangerine Butter was HEAVENLY! This was FRENCH CUISINE at its best and were perfect with the Wente Chard.

At this point I started to notice that the rattan chairs were a bit uncomfortable as I was not quite upright, and the chairs were a bit too low for the elegant white lace woven cloth covered tables. A pillow was provided VERY quickly by the excellent and kind staff (I can't help repeating HOW NICE the folks are here in Los Cabos) Our LAMB with Caramelized LIME JUS, Parmesan Risotto, Green Beans & Carrots was perfectly prepared as requested and the thick rich sauce had a wonderful spice element to it. It took all evening for the chef to brave the Mexican spices and bring them to the fore; something we enjoyed so much everywhere else. We felt the CONO SUR (get the pun?) Merlot 2003 from VALLE de COLCHAGUA we chose by the glass was mediocre at best.

Desserts were split with an ALMOND SUCCESS of MANGO APRICOT CHABUZ (?) Cream, Coconut, Raspberry and Mint and a GLACE NOUGAT with Orange Jelly, Glaceed Fruits, Dark Chocolate Mousse a spun sugar SWORD with a pistachio hilt and mango and chocolate sauces(maybe there was more?). I have always enjoyed Nougat, so it was enjoyable, but Will felt that it had a grassy taste of sorts, so he opted for a mediocre glass of port to wash it down.

So-CANTO DEL MAR is a romantic and special place, with a mostly great menu (unless you get stuck with something you don't like as it is so limited), but a memorable occasion with great service to boot. Of course, we had two meals today, but as Will and Sam have both passed out and I need a bit of rest, I'll report on those tomorrow....