El Jefe de Brunch - Costa @ The Rosewood
I’ve had restaurant fatigue for so long now it was starting to feel like I’d never have the excitement of something different ever again. I’m not knocking any of the incumbents either, so I hope no one gets touchy – but honestly, there isn’t a single restaurant that does brunch like Costa at The Rosewood hotel. Hands down, the islands best brunch and I will die on this hill.
You couldn’t pick a more serene and inviting aesthetic for a Sunday brunch. This isn’t where you come for a ratchet brunch or to “turn up” and get loud, this is for the more sophisticated #brunchvengers. It is quaint and elegant, everything you’d expect of the Rosewood brand. Even the walk through the garden of helconias and palm trees removes you from Nassau and sets you in an oasis.
If you didn’t know, Costa is a Mexican restaurant, the brainchild of Chef Juan Meza. There is a level of intrigue about the cuisine for me. We all know what tacos are, and most of us have eaten a few. Do you know what a good taco is though? Not until you’ve tried the tacos at Costa.
So, here is how brunch works. There are three tiers, and I am not going to bother explaining the differences because they are negligible and you only need concern yourself with one - $95. This includes all you can eat, and drink; cocktails, wine, shots, beers, and the tears of angels if they have it on the bar, for two hours. You can check out the brunch menu here, and the beverage menu here.
This was the main thing that makes their Sunday brunch so inviting. I don't want to have to think about how many dishes to order, or what I can and can't have. Who wants to set a brunch budget? One fixed price for a selection of things will grab my attention every single time.
After you’re seated at your table under one of their four cabanas, take a look around and get lost in the setting. There will be a koi fish swimming past, thrashing at the water in excitement that you’re there. The wait staff is incredibly welcoming, and efficient. Even the bamboo stalks wave at you from across the restaurant dancing in the breeze….or maybe it was the tequila...the jury is out on this one. It doesn’t feel homely, it feels distant and free and incongruent with every other restaurant aesthetic. It’s exactly what I mean when I rant about being transported when you enter a restaurant. You barely even notice you are in a resort anymore.
So, let’s talk about the food.
Your server will bring you a narrow card where all you have to do is fill in how many of each thing you want. Here is my advice: Just order 1 of everything and try it all. Why not? The menu is pre-fixe, you’ve got two hours and you won’t be disappointed by a single thing you order. I promise you that.
The highlights for me were the grilled jalapenos that were like little torpedoes of cheese, bacon and pickled onions that exploded with flavor in every bite without the full blown heat of a jalapeno. That extra bit of char on the outside tied the texture, and flavor together neatly.
The simple dishes are incredibly easy to mess up and I always worry when I order ceviche in restaurants that they will over-do it, but Costa didn't, they just did it. Perfectly.
The ceviche was not only very fresh, but very refreshing; the citrus wasn’t overpowering at all, and the texture of the onion, cucumber, and the seafood paint a mosaic on your palette.
Anything with wagyu in it is something that I want to eat. Costa’s Wagyu Tenderloin Chilaquiles is the more mature big brother to your average bowl of nachos and cheese. Get a little bit of wagyu, feta, cilantro and pickled onions on a corn chip and scoop some salsa verde on top to make each bite as perfecto as the first. Sometimes, the wagyu hides in the middles so don't be afraid to dig in there.
You probably noticed I kind of glossed over the tacos in the beginning. That was a deliberate act of food-shadowing (foreshadowing, but with food. Get it?). It’s because I need you to pay attention very carefully. There are tacos, and then there are tacos.
The beef is braised rib-eye. There is no ground beef of questionable origin here. This beef is spiced, diced, sauced and topped with cilantro and served on a soft shell taco that is stronger than the bottom of Mexicaba’s bags.
The shrimp taco was a little odd for me because I don’t like battered shrimp, but nonetheless it followed through on taste and the tomato mayo (new variation for me) was the perfect compliment. I would have liked a little more spice in this particular taco, but that isn't a complaint - it was still better than anything you'd find elsewhere.
The Cochinita Pibil is delicately spiced pulled that comes in its own mini-skillet so you can build your own taco with it. Resist the urge to do as I did and stuff all of the pork into one taco shell, trust me it won’t all fit #thatswhatshesaid. If you like pork as much as I do, you will enjoy the subtlety of flavors from the braising process, and really get a kick out of the habanero spice.
What is brunch, without drinks? Here is my advice: skip the mimosas, go for the cocktails. You can do a glass if you want to sample a few different drinks, or you can go for a pitcher and get lifted but don’t be shy to try. It’s all inclusive, remember? Shots, glasses, pitchers, bottles. It is all inclusive.
The Medicina Alternative looked interesting, but I ended up having the Solstice because who doesn’t love a good smoky Mezcal right?
One Solstice, a couple of shots of Don Julio 1942 and copious amounts of champagne made for an excellent overall brunch experience.
This isn’t your regular chicken and waffles style brunch experience, this is something different and colorful added to a brunch scene that was becoming very black and white.
I have to come back to the staff for a minute. It isn’t often that I get to compliment the hostess, and waiters at a restaurant. I am sometimes reluctant to go to some of my favorite eateries because the service is slow, inattentive or outright rude sometimes. I have no such complaints about Costa. A special thanks to Ryan, who was our waiter on the day for excellent service.
Go and visit Costa for brunch this Sunday, tell them Nick sent you. They have no idea who I am, but still tell them and see what happens...haha!
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