Award-winning Chefs Deepen Culinary Experience

Three of Puerto Rico’s award-winning chefs have been named to the 2014 “Top 25 Chefs of the Caribbean “ list, by on-line magazine Caribbean Journal.

Two of the winning  chef/owner s, Wilo Benet of Pikayo at the Conrad Condado Plaza Hotel (999 Ashford Avenue) and chef/owner  Roberto Treviño of Budatai, (1056 Ashford Avenue), both in Condado, should come as no surprise for having won yet another award. Both chefs and their wildly popular restaurants are winners of the Tables Magazine Chef’s Hat Award … so many times, in fact, that they’re in the Tables Magazine Hall of Fame! Both men are also ”Celebrity Chefs,” known for their television appearances: Treviño appeared on the Iron Chef competition show on Stateside television; Benet had his own long-running chef series on South American television. Treviño has multiple restaurants on Ashford Avenue. Benet’s cookbooks, the English-language  Puerto Rico True Flavors and its Spanish version, Puerto Rico Sabor Criollo are both best-sellers. Benet also has his own wine label, Dobleú Wine, which Wine Spectator’s Robert Parker declared “Best Buy” in the Wine Advocate.  And so on….

More surprising was the third winner named by the on-line magazine. A newer restaurant/chef  does  not  usually garner “best of” awards; prudent  reviewers generally wait to see “how things settle” before jumping in with a rave review. However, in this instance, word-of-mouth has probably played a big part in their decision of the third winner. Ever since it opened in the fall of 2013, Yantar Restaurant (1018 Ashford Avenue, Condado) has been the talk of the town.

Yantar’s chef, Xiomara Marquez,  has already delighted diners with her versions of Spanish favorites. Whether it’s tapas at the stunning bar or a full meal at an elegantly set table, Yantar gets raves from happy diners. People love the Spanish-style lamb, the tasty-melt-in-your-mouth halibut, and the various seafood ceviches.  A favorite from the beginning has been the Warm Mango Gazpacho, prepared tableside.  Other favorites include the tortilla española, the seafood risotto entrees and a variety of meat and fish choices.

In addition to the exciting menu and impeccable service, the restaurant is lauded for its elegant décor. And the tables by the windows overlooking the the Condado Lagoon offer romantic views.  As delightful as all this is, so too does the wine list appeal. Lengthy and reasonable, it offers something for everyone.

So make somebody happy; make reservations for dinner.

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