LAUREL Food and Wine Restaurant- a Must-Go Destination in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
I was speaking with the US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Wally Brewster and his Charismatic Husband, Bob Satawake about their favorite Destinations in the beautiful Island-Country of the Dominican Republic for a later story. I’ve asked about the tucked away places they like to frequent, what fun excursions they like to do, and where are their favorite places to eat. They’ve mentioned Laurel Food and Wine Restaurant as an outstanding, must-go destination in Santo Domingo and they said I simply had to go an experience it for myself!
Mr. Bob Satawake helped me get in contact with the owners- Teo, Daniel, and Erik! We quickly setup a gastro-tour at Laurel Food and Wine for my next visit to the Dominican Republic which was about a month away. Our international correspondence was so casual, that they already felt like good old friends. I couldn’t wait to see them. We setup the Gastro-Tour for a Wednesday evening.
When we arrived at Laurel Food and Wine, the first thing my fellow guest Carlos Joel and I noticed was the elegance of the place. The exterior as well as the interior was beautiful- yes, the scene is set where fresh flowers & plants, vintage accessories and modern touches serve as the backdrop for your culinary experience.
We settle in and after shaking hands with the three gorgeous men of Teofilio Hache, Daniel Hernandez and Erik Heinsen, they then introduce us to Chef Valentin Markov. We exclaim how excited we are for the Gastro-Tour and then we went on to meet the Wine Sommelier. He hands us an impressive wine list then he brings us to a climate-controlled glass enclosed wine cellar. Then the Sommelier informs us that the Gastro-Tour will include a glass of wine to compliment each course as a smile runs across my face.
The Gastro-Tour started off with a sampling of two kinds of rolls- the Riceless Laurel Sushi Roll and a Riceless Aguacate Crab Roll!! The special sushi rolls were prepared “riceless” one with shrimp and crab wrapped in thin red pepper and the other with spicy crab and avocado. The rolls are rounded it with atun and salsa de anguila. I never thought I’d say this but too bad it was a tour because we could have easily eaten 3-5 portions of that tasting. It was delicate, light and oh so rich in flavors! Coming back to eat these alone would be enough.
Next, we were treated to a seafood pasta dish that included mussels, clams, scallops and shrimp inside a light tomato sauce. I’m not a a big fan of mussels and clams but you wouldn’t know it that day jajajaja! I was embarrassed that our gorgeous waiter took away a plate of shells by the time we finished that course-tasting. Carlos Joel really enjoyed that course too! However, we had to keep in mind that there were more courses ahead so we had to pace ourselves. So far, this Gastro-Tour was turning out more than fine!
The third course was a beautiful Goat Cheese salad. The arugal was crisp and coal and the goat cheese was warm and tasty. Now if you know me, you’d know I’m a sucker for candied almonds and this salad had lots of them! The Goat Cheese salad also came with fresh parmesan and a delicious fresh pear vinaigrette. Triple YUM!!
Then the waiter brought out my favorite stuffed pasta- ravioli! Now this was not your ordinary stuffed ravioli, this was “the Big Ravioli.” It’s new on the menu. It’s like having an angel place heaven in your mouth and that’s all they want me to say about it- come in and try this culinary delight for yourself! You won’t be sorry!
The next course seemed to be tailored made just for me, it was Teriyaki Tenderloin! It was so moist and flavorful. I was able to cut into it with just the fork- I’m not kidding! The temperature was at a perfect medium-rare for me. Carlos Joel was happy with his Teriyaki Tenderloin at medium-well too. This wonderful piece of beef is served on a bed of silky mashed potatoes and a vegetables. This too is definitely a must-have!
Now even though the portions are small (yeah, right) there has been a lot of them and although my eyes can eat forever, my smaller-flatter stomach (thank you very much) is starting to get real full. Let me also add that with each course so far, a wonderful half-glass of wine was happily poured into our glasses. Their wine list is wide and varied and did I mention delicious? Their list reaches into the hundreds. If you’re a so-so wine drinker, you’ll love Laurel’s Food & Wine Restaurant. If you hardly ever drink wine, like Carlos Joel, you’ll love trying out the offerings at this restaurant- try new things, check out the selections and recommended pairings. However, if you’re a wine aficionado, an expert of libations let’s say, then you really will enjoy what Laurel Food and Wine Restaurant has to offer you. Just tell them “H. Luiz sent me!” jajajajaja
The last course (or at least I think it was) was visually tempting as well as truly scrumptious. We were treated to a Crispy Whole Baby Snapper! It was filleted and served on saffron infused jasmine rice and lemon grass. Our server even portioned out the morsels to us. He gave Carlos Joel extra rice because, “that’s how we Dominicans eat rice” he said. jajajaja!
It was an incredible evening and just when I thought it was over, Chef Valentin Markov comes out to see how well did we enjoy this cuisine he prepared…so far. So far? Really? Everything was delicious, the wine, the food- it was all incredible. However, I couldn’t eat another bite! There’s just no way…
“For dessert, I have for you a Chocolate Souffle to end this culinary gastro-tour.” – Chef Markov
Oooh did he say a “chocolate” souffle? And does that come with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce? Well, I couldn’t be rude and risk insult to this magnificent chef, after all the work he’s done creating this tour. I could be tempted to at least try the decadent chocolate souffle- and can we get some cappuccinos with that?
Thank you Teofilio Hache, Daniel Hernandez, Erik Heinsen and Chef Valentin Markov for your hospitality and graciousness. I know we are going to become good friends and please expect to see me every time I’m in Santo Domingo! Thanks for everything, it really was an amazing Gastro-Tour!