Marula @ Panama – Canelón de Cochinillo and Chupe de Corvina
Marula is a cuisine d‘auteur fusion restaurant that combines panamanian local products and flavors with international dishes, or as they put it “Signature cuisine with an eclectic style inspired by two worlds: Africa and the Caribbean. A boutique kitchen that makes you fall in love from the first to the last bite for its exotic combinations and details. ” The place is located at Casa Casco which is a building that hosts 3 restaurants (Marula included), a club / disco and a rooftop which make for a top attraction for dining and partying in Panama city’s historic downtown.
The restaurant itself is also decorated in an eclectic style and I wish I had taken some pictures to share. Definitively the big selling points is it’s location and the place itself. You get great service as well. Now, the food itself is a mix bag in my opinion: As you can appreciate from the pictures, it is presented in very original and clever ways (particularly the Canelón), but the taste itself was a bit of a let down. Now, that doesn’t mean it was bad but when you take into consideration the whole deal (location, service, price, signature cuisine, etc.) if the taste is not up there, it is a huge let down. I am not a food critic so to really narrate the shortcomings would be difficult to say the least. The sea bass had little to no taste in it. The sauce it was accompanied by was very mild which doesn’t go well for a mildly tasting fish. Besides that it lacked of anything to accompany the dish. The friend I went with went as far as to say it was the worst sea bass he has ever had… I personally didn’t think it was bad but it wasn’t good either. Moving on to the Canelón, it was a more interesting dish. Again, nothing crazy good and also with its fair share of shortcomings. Beautifully presented, you can’t wait to dig in though! Now, reading the menu, the Canelón is described as “Suckling pig cannelloni, pineapple chutney and crackling” which in my mind sounds delicious and it is a good combination between sweet, salty, soft and crunchy. Now, the actual dish though has everything spread across so you get to mix it as you want. As you can notice in the picture, the chutney is at a minimum in the plate so not much you can do with it. The crackling or like we call it in Spanish, “chicharron” seemed a bit drier than it should be and harder to the taste… probably not freshly made. The sauce it was accompanied with also was not of my liking… but this could be a personal preference as it seemed more of an acquired taste I did not have. For sure the presentation gets an A+, but again the taste isn’t bringing me back to the restaurant. And finally, because it is a signature cuisine restaurant you get small plates. It seemed general consensus that people were still hungry after eating.
So in conclusion, I would rate this restaurant overall at 4 stars with the following breakdown:
- 3 Stars for food
- 5 Stars for service (there is a bit of a language barrier if you don’t speak Spanish though)
- 5 Stars for ambiance / location
Good place to check out local fusion cuisine and have a good time in Casco Viejo, not a place to visit often do to price / taste / dish sizes.