In reviewing Restaurant Baru I made three separate visits, once before the Jazz Festival on Friday 25 Feb, another at about 10pm on March 4 th and a third, but not final trip on Saturday March 5th at about 7pm for dinner. I don’t usually do this but because of all the discussion about this restaurant on Boquete.ning.com I felt once was not enough.
Name: Restaurant Baru
Location: Across from Central Park in Bajo Boquete, probably the best tourist location in Boquete. Right next to the Municipal Palace.
Hours: They open 11 am, seven days a week and the kitchen closes at 10pm, the bar remains open till midnight Monday -Thursday and later on weekends.
Short Description of the food: The menu ranges from complete dinners to Pizza and other bar food. One our first trip we did not eat, on our second we had a pizza, our third trip was for a real dinner and drinks.
I would love to say the pizza was great, it was beautiful. it was served promptly and I had high hopes. Perhaps my mistake was ordering the combo; canned olives, ok, canned mushrooms, ok, pepperoni ok, but sliced hotdogs for sausage ruined the experience. Still we were hungry and ate half, Stone who was sitting nearby, gladly wolfed down another slice and the rest became breakfast. As an old fraternity guy, a breakfast of cold pizza and warm beer is familiar turf. I have substituted other less toxic beverages but I still like cold pizza for breakfast. This pizza, hot dog removed, was a good tasty day after breakfast. I would say the pizza is equal to that at La Posada, but since I know the pizza chef came from La Posada, I have no idea how theirs is now. I still prefer the NY style at Riccos but that is a personal choice. I prefer the environment at Baru hands down over the non environment at Riccos, that makes the pizza more than equal in the total equation. I mentioned the hot dog to Stuart the co-owner, and he said the used Salchica, a local word for hot dogs, he believed is was sausage and would investigate. I suspect the hot dogs will be replaced with Chorizo, sausage in the future and I was thanked for pointing out my objection.
When we returned on Saturday we ordered the Corvina Macho and Filet Stroganoff and a rum and some water. When the waiter returned he delivered two waters and two rums, he advised us drinks were two for one, not bad for $1.70 plus tax and tip.
As you can see the presentation was excellent, a side salad and we both selected mashed potatoes. Now some confessions, I ordered the filet medium and it was delivered medium, not burnt or raw. The second confession, both were beyond good, they were excellent. The service excellent, the food excellent, the prices more than fair our total bill for four rums, filet of beef and fish was $18 including tax and tip, that bill did include the jubilado discount given without objection or argument, tax and tip.
Ambiance: If you were a visitor to Amigos in the past Baru will feel both familiar and alien. The configuration of outside beer garden, inside front bar and a dining room will be familiar. The spiffy new look, spaced tables and well staffed environemnt will be a surprise. Where Amigos was a warm place by funky construction, Baru is a warm place because the staff and customers overcomes the shiny new everything.
Price: Prices are very reasonable, Beer is $1.25 including tax and tip, a bit more than some other places but Baru provides an ambiance that cost real money. Our medium combo pizza was $7.90 plus tax and 10% tip.
Warning this is one more restaurant that ads a 10% tip into your bill. Unless you want to tip more, don’t leave a tip, it’s covered.
Bathrooms: New clean and complete, they have water, toilets with seats, paper, soap, the whole enchilada. Very much a Panama City, international experience this is an evolution for Boquete.
Kitchen Cleanliness: I did peek in the kitchen was clean and was humming along.
Service: Our service varied a bit the first trip we sat out in the beer garden and I had to flag a waitress, to be fair there was not an empty seat and she confessed it was her first day working. Drinks came in a reasonable time but we did not have enough time to order food before our Jazz event. On out second later night trip the restaurant was almost full and we arrived just as the kitchen was closing. We were greeted immediately by a smiling waiter with drink menus. We did manage to get in a pizza order, the last of the night with some smiling help from management. Stuart is hands on and we were impressed. Our third trip was smooth as silk, good service and food delivered in a reasonable time considering again they had a full house.
Jubilado Discount: Given with no question just give your card to the waiter when you request your bill. They also accept credit cards.
Summary: I started by saying we visited three times and that this would not be our final trip. This restaurant is excellent, the biggest negative is on a weekend it is packed and noisy in the front, but if you want a quiet dinner there is the back room. Baru is a good addition to the Boquete community. The staff is working hard at providing both good food and good service. Management is there, hands on, asking for feedback, what a pleasure that is. If Baru maintains it’s quality it will earn a golden coffee bean as one of the Best of Boquete. I need to fnd some golden coffee beans soon.