Restaurant Check: El Meson De La Cava
Have you ever had dinner in a cave? For us it was the first time in one of the well known caves of Santo Domingo in the wonderful El Meson De La Cava. While you arrive on the ground level you go down a small spiral staircase to get inside the cave and right there you get a very special feeling with the dark light and the stone walls around you. It is really fascinating how a they could build a restaurant inside this cave with all the equipment, the whole kitchen with ventilation and the electricity. The restaurant is really big but separated in small caves/rooms.
We were accompanied to the terrace first where we hat a dry Martini as an aperitif. There we met Otto, the owner of this magical place. It was a pleasure for us that he took the time to talk to us. He could tell so many interesting things about this restaurant, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. During our conversation, we both felt how experienced he is and how much efforts he put into this restaurant.
After the aperitif we were accompanied to our table in the corner of one of the caves. We had the pleasure to be served by a waiter and the marketing manager, both did a wonderful job and were very attentive to make the most perfect service. Our first course were deep fried mini empanadas filled with conch stew and served with an Amarillo sauce. With this course we had a wonderful Spanish sparkling wine, a Cava from the Carol winery.
The second course was a mixed salad with the heart of a palm, aguacate which is a topical Caribbean fruit tasting like a lemon and is a kind of a lychee and mango. After this course we did get an shrimp asopao which were their way to do a risotto. It's a well known dish in Dominican Republic with a fresh taste of tomato and a shrimp. For this course they offered another Spanish wine, a Torre de Ermelo which had a delicious freshness that matched perfectly with the shrimp.
Now we had an amazing dish: A coral reef langoustine roasted in marine salt! Have you ever had a langoustine in a salt crust? It was a totally new and super tasty experience for us. The chef and his Sous-chef prepared this course at the table which was a great show. It was just served with olive oil black pepper and chili powder. The taste of the langoustine was unique and very soft. It was definitely our favorite dish of this evening. Congratulations to the chefs.
A fish filet a la coco was the second main course. It was prepared in the typical way like they are doing it in Samana bay in a coconut cream and lime sauce. Samana bay is the peninsula in the north-east of the country where we stayed before. It was paired with an Pinot Grigio from Anterra an Italian wine which was a very good choice with its acidity.
In between the main courses they served tropical fruits in a liquor osmosis to refresh our taste.
The next course was "bucho de gallo" it's quite similar to the dish "el sancocho". It is like a stew with different types of meat in it served with a corn. A special dish you have to try at least once when you are in Dominican Republic.
Now we had a dish more Dominican than their flag. You can find this dish in all the hot street corners of the country. It was a pork belly called "chicharron" served over green plantain mash. This course was accompanied by a Spanish sherry from Tio Pepe.
After exploring so many traditional dishes from all over the country our last course was from the south west of Dominican Republic close to the boarder to Haiti. It was Seco of baby goat "chivo" served over Chen Chen. The goat was shredded and sun dried and served over a corn pudding. The wine pairing for this dish was a Tempranillo from Glorioso a full bodied Spanish red wine
Our dessert was Majerete ice cream. Majerete is a corn custard dessert blended into an ice cream. A traditional Dominican dessert and a perfect way to finish this culinary highlight. For us it was a pleasure to learn so many things about the culture and the food of the Dominican Republic. And we were honored to get such a great service.