The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan is located on an ideal beachfront spot in sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel is known for its breathtaking views, flawless service, and, of course, its spectacular culinary creations along with tropical inspired cocktails. We met up with Melissa K. Rivera, beverage manager, and Chef Joseph Stewart, BLT Steak’s chef de cuisine. Melissa and Joe were recently featured in “consummate collaborations 4 – Winter 2010 edition” because of their winning entry of Braised Short Ribs, Recao, Gingered Kabocha Squash and Guava-Bacardi BBQ Sauce with a Tropical Rose Sangria.
Melissa and Joe gave a tour of what the food and beverage outlets has to offer in this luxurious hotel and the unique culinary experience you can expect when visiting the Caribbean. We asked them what distinguishes Puerto Rico from other countries and how does that reflect on the development of new cocktails and creative cuisine. “Well since its summer year-round in Puerto Rico, it helps to be creative with your palate. Trying different variations together of some of the available local ingredients, whether it be avocados that are grown in your front yard with mangos from your neighbors yard. Earthy and sweet, starchy and sour, Puerto Rico has all the flavors together to make any cooks mouth water,” says Chef Joseph. Melissa says, “I think Puerto Rico has certain flavors that are unique to this island. Also combined with the warmth of the vibrant culture that our ladies and gentlemen reflect in the creative process, you can feel the passion through the food and beverage, and that’s very unique.”
Ocean Bar and Grill
Take in ocean views as you experience the pleasures of the hotel’s beachfront restaurant. Al fresco lunch specialties, sandwiches, salads and exotic drinks are available either at the beach or poolside with views of the white sand and the Atlantic Ocean. Located beachfront with direct access to the beach and pool make this a perfect spot to enjoy a “Chimichurri” Marinated Steak Wrap along with a frothy piña colada – the island is where the infamous cocktail was created.
Forged and inspired by the natural abundance of tropical life, Mares is a casual dining destination offering a range of the Atlantic and Caribbeanís finest cuisine. Mares also has an array of cocktails that go great with any time of the day, including a ìBloody Mariaî, a twist of the traditional Bloody Mary cocktail that has a dash of ìsofritoî, a home-made mix of spices and herbs traditionally used for cooking Puerto Rican food.
The Lobby Lounge immerses the senses in the wonders of Puerto Rico’s cuisine and the culture. Puerto Rico’s diverse cultural influences: Spanish, Taino and African are reflected in the music, cuisine and rums. Our menu is designed to allow the sampling of many flavors through tapas style food portions and beverage flights including martinis, wines and rums. Our Rummier will be pleased to guide you in sampling and selecting from our extensive rum list, while providing an understanding of each rum and its historical and cultural place in Puerto Rico.
BLT Steak has redefined steakhouse dining with its modern décor and infusion of classic French techniques. The restaurant integrates traditional elements of a cozy French Bistro with those of a stylish, urbane boite. The eye-catching bar at the front of the restaurant features unique cocktails that are almost as complex with its ingredients as are its inspired blackboard daily features. Melissa describes BLT’s drink menu as “fresh ingredients coming together in a way you wouldn’t expect in your every day cocktail.” When asked, Chef Joseph tells us his inspiration in creating his daily-changing blackboard menu is, “I just want to make good, comfortable food that our guests can relate to: simple food, done right, with layered flavors to match. I’m not here to scare anybody away with crazy 35 ingredient dishes. I want the guest to feel comfortable enough with what they just ate, to come up to our wide open kitchen and ask me for the recipe.” Also, with a wine list of over 350 labels, there is a varietal to match and pair with any one of the dishes