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Saturday, April 21, 2007

ROSA MEXICANO--Palm Beach Gardens

The Art and Culture brochure we pick up at the Palm Beach Shores Resort’s Activities Desk includes an invitation to Celebrate Spring 2007 at Rosa Mexicano Restaurant. This is the second recommendation in so many days, so Rob and I are off. Rosa Mexicano is located in Downtown at the Gardens--yes that's the name of the upscale shopping mall in Palm Spring Gardens. In addition to the beautiful, modern layout, valet parking, Whole Foods Market and wireless internet throughout the center, there's a great Florida atmosphere--almost a party atmosphere. But many of the drivers riding up and down in their sleek cars are baby boomers!

Rosa Mexicano is right there, sparkling like a jewel. Their Celebrate Spring festival offers a three-course pre-fixe dinner menu for only $20.07. How good is that?!

The restaurant is modern and daring in blue and orange. Lighted masks decorate the walls. Although we sit in a booth, the chairs at the tables are woven in bright orange. The ceilings are high and techno--but the pipes and the lighting give everything the blue tones that match the full wall blue waterfall, Rosa Mexicano’s signature decoration. Beautiful. Unique. There are candles on the tables, but the restaurant lighting is muted. If it is a bit noisy, it is not overbearing. There’s a great atmosphere.

We expect to stay a while, and Rob orders a pitcher of sangria. It's a tasty concoction of fruit, wine, triple sec, brandy and soda. When Rob encounters a piece of fruit he cannot immediately identify, we learn from Amanda, our waitress, that this unusual ingredient is cucumber. It’s incredibly tasty. Who woulda thunk? The sangria is perfect.

Our dinners are spectacular. They’re colorful, presented beautifully, and served with care.

We begin with the restaurant's signature appetizer, Guacamole en Molcajete. (BTW, “signature” seems to be the buzz word; everyplace we go has one! ;-) ) A chef appears at our table with his cart full of ingredients and preparatory implements, heightening our pleasure and, certainly, as it is prepared, heightening our expectations. We are not disappointed. Our chef skillfully adds each ingredient, cuts the fresh avocado, taps the pit skillfully with a knife so it splits and is easily removed, uses a scoop to release the green flesh and mixes it to the right consistency, not too chunky, not too smooth. The finished dish is placed before us in an attractive bowl. The guacamole is served with fresh, warm corn tortillas, tortilla chips, a tomatilla dip and a spicy, smooth dip. It's a meal in itself, really, but it is our first course. This may be the best guacamole we’ve ever tasted! It's chunkier, and while there is a blending of flavors, there is also the distinctive taste of the avocado ready to be savored.

Rob and I choose the same entree, Enchiladas Mestizas, two chipotle beef-filled enchiladas topped with Mexican cheese and cilantro and served with a rich and spicy sauce of chipotle chilies, tomatillos and tomatoes. The enchiladas are accompanied by rice and black beans. These dishes are attractive and tantalizing. Delicious!

As we finish the sangria, Amanda reminds us that we still have our dessert. She describes our two choices. Rob asks her which one she recommends, but hedging ever so slightly, she suggests we each choose one and share. Good suggestion.

Tres Leches de la Casa is three milk cake inadequately described as a rich, white cake, vaguely reminiscent of a sponge cake, covered with a perfect meringue and served with lime natilla, mango salsa. Need I say more? Our other choice, Paraiso de Chocolate, is described on the menu as a warm chocolate soufflé cake. Again, I can inadequately describe it as a marvelous tasting richly chocolate thicker than brownie cake with a warm, soft chocolate filling. It is served with a sweet tomatillo dipping sauce and vanilla ice cream. Need I say more? These are desserts one dreams of. They're masterpieces finished with a nice, hot cup of coffee.

You don't have to come to south Florida to enjoy Rosa Mexicano's wonderful food. This selective chain opened its first restaurant in NYC in 1984, and there are two Rosas in Manhattan. In the Washington DC area, there's a Rosas as there are in several other cities. Visit their
website for locations convenient to you.
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