No Way, Cafe Soleil?

You don't know your way around Puerto Rico, so you decide to dine at one of Gran Melia's eateries. Café Soleil looks like the perfe...

You don't know your way around Puerto Rico, so you decide to dine at one of Gran Melia's eateries. Café Soleil looks like the perfect choice. "For $32 per person," you mumble, "it better be."

Well, when you walk into this place, you know for sure that the regal, thickly upholstered chairs, antique-looking tropical wall art and fresh lily centerpieces are what you're paying for.

Depending on what day you go, you might ask your private black-suited waiter to get rid of the roast lamb you thoughtlessly piled on your plate, not knowing that it would (when you really looked closely at it) resemble dried-out pig skin and taste like the beef jerky you bought and ate in ravenous desperation at the airport newsstand. You'll probably mash the flan with your fork and get disappointed because it tastes like gelatinous store-bought pumpkin pie.

To be fair, though, I'll include the delicious
with the disgusting. While I can't remember much at the hot food station other than the steamed vegetables and grilled corn, the savory brown sauce on the london broil was actually good enough to have its own commercial.

And the bread. Ohh...Their whole-grain honey-molasses baguettes embedded with sunflower seeds, walnut pieces and rolled oats were probably the softest and freshest I've ever tasted. The chicken noodle soup was different than most I've had--hot and full of juicy
grilled white meat and huge veggies.

But the salad bar takes the win. For the first time, I tried hearts of palm (they come from the cores of certain palm trees and taste a bit like artichoke hearts when marinated) and placed a handful of them over a bed of romaine with cold, steamed white asparagus spears, sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, dried figs, a sprinkle of walnuts, and I drizzled the whole thing with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Let me tell you...what a unique salad! Sweetness from the figs and tomatoes, crunch from the walnuts, and a tang from the vinegar. And the asparagus melted in my mouth. Perfect combo.

For dessert, a few soft lady fingers with faux whipped cream (it's probably a step below cake frosting) and a handful of the fresh berries I snatched from the decorative display was a good alternative to the abovementioned poor excuse for flan.

You see, I can put together a satisfying meal wherever I go. I'm not being boastful; I'm being truthful.

Bottom line: If you can't come to terms with paying $32 per person for a few good items, (even if the bread is amazing), go somewhere else.

You might want to try Tempo, the Italian restaurant at Gran Melia. I'll talk about that one next.

;) Holly


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