Rarely in life do you find something that lives up to the ‘hype’. Fortunately, Pikayo does just that. The restaurant is located inside the Condado Hotel, a short escalator ride to the Mezzanine level. You enter into entertainment before being greeted by the enthusiastic smile of the staff, you cannot help but notice the modern lounge area with its sharp style as the server leads you to a mood-lit restaurant dressed in all white. Upon sitting you are greeted by Carlos the manager, who exudes excitement for his favorite dishes on the menu.
The dinner begins with the “Pegao” Tuna with Chipotle Mayonnaise. Spice from the chipotle was quickly balanced by the suppleness of tuna, which was married with a crunchy rice patty. A glass of crisp Aubry, Brut Premier is a brilliant match for this winning appetizer that seems to be the perfect balance of flavors and textures just setting the mood for the rest of the night.
Presentation, Presentation, Presentation! This second appetizer, the Veal Cheek “Taquitos” with Red Pickled Onions, speaks for itself. The perfect bite of crunchy shell with an abundance of meat. Although delicious, it was no match for its successor, the Portuguese Octopus, which quickly stole the show.
This Portuguese Octopus with Shallot plate was light and full of flavor. For those who are wary of trying Octopus, this dish will quickly make it to your favorites list, while releasing your inhibition to explore new foods.
The Foie Gras with Ripe Plantain & Black Truffle Honey entrée was a great pairing of sweet and savory. The liver gave away easily to the knife. Under advisement of the waiter to incorporate all three elements in each bite, the first few bites proved to be delectable. Though, I dared to live dangerously and tried the Foie Gras alone, which was a bit much by itself. I heeded the waiter’s advice for the remainder of the night.
The Lumachie with Spicy Crab “Salmorejo” definitely awakens every sense on the palate. Each bit as evenly covered and flavorful as the last. While the heat of this dish is present, it is mild enough to enjoy its warmth.
Corned Beef Brisket “Pionono” with Fricase Sauce was one of my favorites. It has a homey feel with a sense of elegance. This mouthwatering brisket is tender to the touch that falls apart at the slightest touch of your fork. A sweet and sour sauce with a hint of old south flavor only found in backyard BBQ’s. The plantain offers additional texture and sweetness.
My favorite dish is the Jumbo Shrimp. The coconut milk polenta and spicy guava sauce spice up the classic shrimp and grits. While the shrimp is large enough to be a meal on its own, the firm shrimp and creamy polenta is a great combination. The guava sauce elements completed this dish to cover not only the basics elements, but made it the “perfect dish”. I will definitely try to recreate this dish at home.
During my visit to Puerto Rico I spoke with two strangers each of which had similar and nothing but complementary reviews of this top-notch restaurant. “You must try the Sword Fish at Pikayo,” the two stangers recommended. It is listed on the menu as the North Atlantic Sword Fish with Pigeon Pea “Escabeche” with Ripe Plantain Emulsion. I took their advice and found the fish to be moist and flavorful. The fish is marinated overnight and in their usual fashion of incorporating sweetness by plantain, contained the right amount of natural sweetness.
The night ended with the Chocolate and Cheese Soufflés. It is noted in the menu to kindly pre-order with your meal due to prep time. If you are like me and always save room for dessert, you do not want to miss out on this sweet surprise. The fluffy soufflés, with warm sauce that compliments the cool ocean breeze is the perfect end to a great evening.
The “captain” of my table provided exemplary service. The ambiance, along with the captain’s genuine smile, clean silverware, and wonderful food suggestions, exceeded all my expectations. My captain seemed to have a magical ability to keep the table pristine without being noticed. It is no wonder why the restaurant is full of energy and smiling faces once you meet the Chef Wilo Benet. Pikayo is an instrumental part of making it isla bonita.
For more information please visit The Pikayo Resturant website