Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mansion Alcazar

When we arrived in Cuenca (over a month ago), we passed by the Mansion Alcazar -- one of the upscale boutique hotels on Simon Bolivar. I peeked inside and shouted, "It looks like it's fit for a princess!" My hubby winked and grabbed my arm before I made reservations!

Many of the boutique hotels in Cuenca are -- in fact -- old colonial Cuencano homes with a central courtyard where the "bedrooms" in the mezzanine area overlook the open courtyard. These refurbished homes are treasures and you never know what you'll find inside! 

Last evening my hubby surprised me by taking me out to dinner at the gourmet restaurant (Casa Alonso) at Mansion Alcazar (one month to the day that I first spotted this lovely place and drooled on its curtains!). It was simply amazing; I felt transported to another world (yes, I know...I am in another world!).

As soon as we walked through the portico, the door was opened by the attendant, and we were led to the courtyard. I stood speechless, admiring the antique Ecuadorian furniture, the candles that were lit in our presence, and the server who said, "Si, signora...tenemos todo!" That was his response to my request for the wine list. Mark blinked twice and asked, "Did you ask the price?"

"'s too late for that!" I responded with a wink and a smile.

As we sipped our wine (no we didn't ask the price!), we took in our surroundings: the antiques, the chandelier hanging from the open courtyard creating a soft glow, and the pink roses cascading from the center fountain. As I oohed and ahhed, the conceirge asked if she could take our picture. I sputtered out, "Podria tomar una foto -- por favor?" (Again, please don't imitate my "espanol" might be sorry!)

Her response was charming, "Por supuesto!" Certainly! I love the Ecuadorian hospitality (we felt like guests in someone's home).

After a round of pictures, the door was opened to the restaurant and we were seated next to the inner courtyard. My eye caught the white and red rose floating in water, the superior place settings, the gold cloth napkin, and the Armetale plates.

During the meal, our every need was anticipated (it's as if she read our minds). Between courses we were served "sorbet" to freshen our palate (as if we needed it!). I have never tasted "basal sorbet," but I have to tell you...that was an experience. Mark ordered the Steak Alcazar and I ordered Chicken Parmesan. It was so tender, it melted in my mouth. I especially enjoyed the presentation of the tomato was prepared at our table (sorry, I was too mesmerized so I didn't get pictures).

I practiced my Spanish and to my amazement our server understood everything I said, including..."Podemos compartir el postre?" Can we share a dessert? (Warning: If I were you, I wouldn't emulate my's hit or miss most of the time).

"Claro que si!" was the response. (That's always music to my ears; it means they understood me...sort of!).

The chocolate dessert included this "gooey" warm cake with a mousse filling -- served  with a "copetta" of chocolate ice cream. The "Dora Explorer" pins were not for consumption, but actual souvenirs of the evening. (Thanks to the desserts in Cuenca, I've gained FIVE pounds in a month!)

My cafe arrived with its own little pitcher of warm milk (when is the last time that happened to you?). It was one of those evenings that I didn't want to end, but all good things do and the bill arrived (in a cute white and gold envelope with angels on the front). We were shocked! With wine (three or was it four glasses?), two entrees, salad, soup, dessert, cafe...(gratuity included), our total came to $40. I pinched myself. Although that's our budget for the month for eating was worth it!

After payment, each of the doors leading to the inner courtyard were opened for us and we made our way to the street where Mark hailed a taxi. Once inside, I whispered into Mark's ear, "If this is a dream, p-l-e-a-s-e don't wake me up!" Mark wrapped his arms around me and whispered back, "I promise!"

That was -- by far -- the best meal I have ever eaten and as far as service goes...absolutely impeccable!

If you're looking for a special evening (don't wait for your birthday...make something up!), head to Mansion Alcazar. You won't be disappointed. 

Until next time...hasta luego!

Consuelo y Marco

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