Tag Archives: cancun restaurants

Aioli Restaurant, Le Meridien Hotel, Cancun

The Casual Restaurant Critic and his beloved Better Half spent a night in Cancun and tried the Aioli restaurant in the Le Meridien hotel in Cancun’s hotel zone. Recommended by a friend, the Critic and BH had stayed at this fine hotel a while back but did not have dinner on that occasion, preferring to visit an old Cancun favorite, La Dolce Vita, which turned out to be a bust and resulted in its being eliminated from the favorite restaurant list.

Aioli is an elegant little restaurant with impeccable service; service that went over the top to ensure the Critic and BH felt welcome and appreciated. For example, when they found out that on this occasion the Critic was staying at another Starwood property, the manager personally came over to the table and said thank you for choosing his restaurant and would we like a glass of wine on the house to show his appreciation. The Critic and BH picked up their chins from the floor and thanked him for his gracious offer, opting for a glass of house red, which was very good.

The restaurant has a small menu, but all the dishes are expertly prepared and beautifully presented. Portions are small to medium sized but the flavor and presentation, combined with the attentive and friendly service, justify the price tag, which is not overly hefty but neither is it cheap.

The Critic had an Angus steak which was perfectly cooked and served with baked potato wedges and served on a sauce of red wine and caramelized onions. Better Half enjoyed a roast duck breast with exotic trimmings. Before that, a seared, sesame crusted tuna appetizer. Desserts were outstanding; a traditional lime pie and a cheesecake. The lime pie was garnished with what seemed like tiny gelatin cubes of vodka that melted in ones mouth. Coffee was made at the table in individual french presses; hot, fresh and aromatic.

In addition to the complimentary glass of wine, a further 20% discount was applied to the bill and another complimentary glass of wine offered at the end of the meal. These folks went above and beyond to make the Critic and BH feel spoiled and pampered.

A civilized meal with outstanding food and service without any hype or flash. Highly recommended. (iPhone photos not great due to low lighting)

Seafood 3 Days in a Row: La Dolce Vita, Cancun

Question: does anyone know what happened to the former doyenne of fine dining in Cancun?

Maybe it was the empty tables, the absence of a hostess, the fact that no owner was on site or perhaps it was the sad spectacle put on by the waiters, bumping 3 Stooges-like into each other as they scurried about, but the Critic got the impression that La Dolce Vita, a 30 year fixture on the Cancun culinary map, has finished its run.

No special martini or drink was offered. The Critic recalls that when you arrived at La Dolce Vita, after being seated by an attractive and attentive hostess, a waiter mentioned the cocktail of the evening (grape daiquiris made with real grapes, banana margaritas etc). Often there was live music in the form of a saxophone playera in the middle of the restaurant. The place felt ‘alive’.

No longer.

While the food was alright, the fact that the recipes are more or less the same does not a great dining experience make. The Critic remembers that the Caesars Salad, for example, was delicious back in the day.

Ensalada Cesar

What arrived at the table on this occasion was a rather excessively creamy yet curiously bland dressing smothering the orejona lettuce. The seafood platter looked spectacular, but turned out not to have much to offer in the flavor department.

Seafood Platter

Boquinete Wrapped in Pastry

The Critics favorite dish, the motivation that precedes every visit to the Dolce Vita in the last few years, is the boquinete wrapped in flaky pastry, baked and served hot with a lobster gravy.  This dish was as good as the Critic recalled, but somehow did not make up for the rest of the experience.

One thing that remains the same, however, is that the crocodile still comes to feed off the deck overlooking the Nichupte lagoon. And while the Dolce Vita has shrunk in the Critics eyes, the crocodile has grown to enormous proportions!