“Nu” Eatery in Escazú

August 12, 2005

NU is new! This small bistro style restaurant in the western suburb of San Rafael de Escazú is located at the side of the Kentucky Fried Chicken building, near the busy intersection, El Cruce. There’s parking in front of the restaurant and it’s only a few minutes’ walk from Scotia Bank and Más x Menos. After you’ve done your errands, it’s an ideal spot – away from the noisy thoroughfare – for a quiet lunch, coffee and dessert.A friend who goes to Nu regularly suggested that three of us meet there for lunch.The charming owner, Laura Guardia, was on hand as she always is to make sure everything is running smoothly. She has had her own catering business for 10 years; but instead of operating from home, she decided to combine her specialties and open Nu, where she continues to bake and do most of the cooking herself. “It certainly keeps me busy,” she said. “I spend 12 hours a day here and even bake my own bread.”Her farmhouse loaf served hot with pats of excellent butter is a feast in itself; I could have made a meal of that alone. Guardia has paid a lot of attention to the comfortable, non-pretentious decor. Warm-colored terracotta walls and dark wooden chairs covered with striped fabric complement the navy, forest green and maroon runners and napkins set on the imitation marble- top tables. Fresh flower arrangements and a fascinating collection of her personal prints, mostly fruits, vegetables and cheeses, are well worth a closer look. Outdoor seating on the veranda with small wrought-iron tables and chairs was an option we didn’t use.IT was time to tuck in, and we ordered from the menu, small in both size and choices. The house salad was fresh, crisp and contained the usual ingredients, including a generous portion of sweet corn. Salads are served with a variety of dressings; our choice was the olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette served on the side, enabling us to dress it to taste. The Toscana, a salad of lettuce, arugula, sliced pears and an excellent blue cheese, was delicious.This was followed by crêpes Florentine stuffed to bulging with spinach and ricotta cheese, covered with a fresh tomato sauce. Light and delicious, the dish resembled lasagna without the heaviness of pasta.Sandwiches with a variety of fillings are served on different types of breads, including croissants and panini. There’s also a choice of three different pastas, plus an excellent bargain, the daily special at ¢2,500 ($2.50), including soup or salad, main course and dessert. That day, customers were enjoying the chicken breast in a leek sauce.THE desserts, a choice of miniature tarts, brownies, lemon meringue pie, apple tart and a variety of cakes, are displayed at the counter. The menu also offers cheesecake, profiteroles, crêpes Romanoff and Oozy, a freshly baked chocolate cake filled with hot chocolate sauce and served with ice cream. Sad to say, our desserts were not so good. My lemon tart was undercooked, the mini-brownies and pecan tarts stale.Aware of our displeasure, Guardia immediately apologized profusely and in next to no time, complimentary chocolate cake and delicious freshly baked brownies appeared. Illy coffee and a large selection of special blends, both hot andcold, include some that are desserts in themselves, such as Café Oreo, a concoction of iced coffee, chocolate, Oreo cookies and ice cream. The Soda Italiana proved a refreshing combination of coffee flavored with fruit syrup, topped with soda water.Prices are reasonable and include 13% tax and 10% service. Salads cost ¢1,950-3,500 ($4-7.30) for a Caesar with chicken. Pasta and crêpes are in the ¢3,000 ($6.30) range, and sandwiches are ¢2,000-3,000 ($4.20-6.30). Coffees, smoothies, floats, teas and cold drinks cost ¢600-1,400 ($1.25-2.90).Guardia’s homemade preserves and sauces are on sale at the restaurant, and she offers catering services. For information, call 228-2989. Located in San Rafael de Escazú, diagonal from Hotel María Alexandra, Nu is open every day, noon-8 p.m.

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