Carmen Cartagena, San Diego

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CARTAGENA | Carmen Cartagena is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the city, and by the time you’ve worked your way through the seven course tasting menu it’s easy to see why.

Hidden behind an unassuming facade in Cartagena’s old town, the restaurant surrounds, and opens into, a spacious tropical patio full of greenery. To the side is a separate dining room, and upstairs a rooftop dining space with views to the ocean.

The couple behind Carmen is Rob Pevitts and his wife Carmen Angel. This is actually their second Carmen restaurant, the first being one of Medellin’s best restaurants. Pevitts and Angel are graduates of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy in San Francisco, and they bring all of their knowledge to Carmen. The food combines contemporary techniques with the freshest local produce and flavour elements from across the globe. The result is a unique, distinctly Colombian menu.

The food at Carmen is fantastic, and it’s hard to pick out just a few favourites. The ‘Playa Blanca’ – octopus, rock shrimp & white fish ceviche, fermented coconut tiger’s milk, edible sand, red caviar, coconut rum sea foam, and cilantro is a stand out. As is the Carimañolas, a yuca & achiote croquette with a liquid foie gras & black truffle center, seasonal fruit bigarade, and Caribbean créme fraîche. Assorted textures and flavours combine wonderfully, and each dish brings a new flavour sensation to the table.

Indulgent, delicious, and a must order for meat lovers is the ‘Trio des Res’. You get a generous serve of three kinds of beef – tenderloin, cheek & braised tongue, served with bone marrow & Parmigiano Reggiano 24 raviolo, allium & port, and corozo palm fruit. There’s a lot going on in this dish, and it comes together wonderfully.

For dessert the Maui is a must try. It’s a macadamia nut financier covered in 70% cacao ganache, coconut cloud, honey & lavander ice cream, and rum caramelized pineapple. A true taste of the tropics.

There’s an extensive wine list, with about 11 wines available by the glass. It is, however, hard to go past the innovative cocktails, which are as interesting and unique as the food. Try the ‘Pirate’s Booty’, a mixture of Sailor Jerry spiced rum & local Medellin 12 year rum, fermented coconut, salted caramel syrup, orange, clove & cinnamon bitters. The ‘La Vie En Rose’, vodka, rose & cucumber syrup, rosemary liqueur, lime, grapefruit, and cardamom bitters, is also delicious.

Service is fantastic, with each dish described  as it’s being served, and waitstaff who are more than happy to go into more detail about any ingredients or dishes you might want further information about. For those not looking for a seven course degustation, Carmen also offers a five course degustation along with an a la carte menu.

If you’ve only got time for one meal in Cartagena, Carmen is the place to go to.

Carmen Cartagena

Calle 38 #8-19
Cartagena
Bolivar
Colombia

Telephone: +57 5 6645116
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Mon, Wed – Fri: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Tue: 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Sat – Sun: 12:30pm to 3:00pm; 6:30pm to 10:30pm

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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