THE PLATE

Costa Rica isn't known for its flashy cuisine - staple fare consists largely of rice and beans. But once you reach the Pacific, more fish appears on the menu, as you would expect. El Ocotal is one of the best resorts along this northern stretch of coast, and this is reflected in the food - although not in the prices. A three-course meal including Caesar salad and whole lobster came to £8. Freshness and simplicity are key: a seafood salad will have just-caught prawns, mussels, crab and the subtlest of dressings. Even their take on California sushi makes the original look overdone.

THE VIEW

Everything tastes great when you've got a 270-degree view of the Pacific before you. You can just about see the cliffs on either side, but in front there is nothing but the vast, calm ocean. Look directly below you and you're likely to see a racoon trying to cadge some supper. Its arrival is welcomed by some (the tourists who think it's cute) and hated by others (the locals, who know a scavenger when they see one). Entertainment is often provided by haughty iguanas and crafty red-crested magpies.

THE BILL

The special fixed-price menus can work out at less than £10 a head. for three courses Lunch for two, including drinks, came to £11. The only pricey part of the menu is the wine list, as Costa Rica relies on expensive imports: an indifferent Malbec from Argentina cost £18.

Roca Bruja, Ocotal Resort, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (00 506 670 0321; www.ocotolresort.com)

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