Cafe Restaurant Lago - New Hotel Coffee Shop Offers Ambiance and Luxury
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
You've probably heard the old saying about how the journey can be a more satisfying experience than arriving at the destination. This review follows in similar fashion, with everything about this restaurant's location, ambiance, esthetics and facilities being a nearly five-star experience but the actual food itself was rather plain by comparison. The Cafe Restaurant Lago is located in the brand new Hotel Belvedere, at the Leo Palace Resort. I don't recall ever being more impressed by the journey to reach a restaurant - it is truly amazing in the quality and luxury of the entire complex including and surrounding this coffee shop. I've heard that designers and contractors were brought in from Singapore to work on the Hotel Belvedere's construction...truly you have to see this place to believe it. It's really that impressive, leaving one with the idea that you've actually traveled to a place like Singapore that shares a similar standard of quality.
The Cafe Restaurant Lago is on the ground floor which you reach it by going down an elegant stairway and navigating wide corridor past the Amika Lounge Bar and the Boutique Les Atours. Signs will direct you on your journey, but I must say you will be looking around open-mouthed at the inspired design elements and the high-ceilinged, nearly palatial architecture of this facility. Lago is adjacent to the bowling alley - although the word "alley" is generic as this place is far from an alley. It looks like a private underground bowling complex built by billionaire Bill Gates. We arrived for a late lunch and were seated in luxurious chairs that were designed for the fashion crowd, meaning that if you are broad-hipped or bigger than the average Asian or Western model (as are a lot of us), you would be well advised to sit in one of the less-restrictive booth seats. The bowling lanes are visible through the ornate, wood-paneled glass windows separating the dining room from the alley.
The resturant is open daily from 7am to 10:30pm with a breakast buffet from 7:30am - 10:30am and a la carte menus available throughout the day. In fact, three different a la carte menus rotate every two days for the lunch and dinner meal service, and feature a variety of "Japanese European" offerings such as Neapolitan Style Tenderloin Steak ($16.75), Jumbo Italian Salad ($13.75), Fried Crunchy Squid and Vegetable with Yogurt Tartar Sauce ($7), Crab Croquette with Tomato Sauce ($15.50), Beef or Chicken Curry Rice ($9), Creamed Escargot & Mushrooms on Baguette Toast ($7.50), Healthy Cold Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing ($9.50), and Spaghetti Eggplant & Meat Sauce ($8.75). We ordered the latter two for our lunch.
The Healthy Cold Chicken had chicken breast pieces smothered in a white cream sauce with a pile of mixed greens, shredded red cabbage, onion, and carrot slivers. The flavorful sesame dressing was in a separate dish. True to its name, the salad was certainly a healthy, light choice, however, you know you are paying for the location and not for the salad on its own merits.
The Spaghetti Eggplant & Meat Sauce entree caught my interest since I love eggplant. It looked really inviting, with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese covering the spaghetti ringed by a circle of eggplant slices that were finished (baked) along with the cheese. The eggplant on top was a bit overcooked (something that could have been remedied by sauteing them and placing them atop the cheese after broiling, or maybe using thicker slices to allow more juice to remain inside). The spaghetti and meat sauce was palatable, though very typical of Japanese style and taste. I did suggest to our enthusiastic and attentive server, Shirley, that they should offer garlic toast to accompany this entree. We also suggested that they use coasters to absorb the moisture coming off the iced tea and water glasses. All in all, the meal was satisfying, although I think on our next visits we'll check out the other restaurants and try authentic Japanese at Iki Japanese Restaurant or Italian/European at the Feeregalo. The Ten Table Restaurant is purported to offer Asian cuisine - I'd like to see how they approach this in their preparation.
The Cafe Restaurant Lago is worth experiencing at least one time. I believe the owners are really catering to their in-house guests and not looking to compete for the local market. The price points are high, and for what we are used to getting at our local eateries, I think most folks would agree that they'd want more value for their money. On the other hand, there are no places on island that have a comparable setting... this is a marvelous destination for anyone wanting to make the journey. Call 471-0001 ext. 7190 for more information about Lago's daily menu.