Something borrowed for something new? 8vo Rooftop has something just for you!

Costa Rican cuisine is coming of age and it’s making its debut at 8ctavo Restaurant on top of the Sheraton Hotel in Escazu. Chefs Andrew Graves and Frieman Chaves have spent the last two years concocting fresh new takes on old Costa Rican traditions. “It brings back old memories with a modern touch,” says local Richard Oliver.

From the beginning, Graves expressed the importance of matching the food to the restaurant’s edgy ambiance while at the same time staying true to the country’s culture and resources. Locavores will smile to see familiar foods like plantains, yuca and coconut being used in each of the dishes. This practice of cuisine du marché or “cooking from the market” is actually quite worldly. Graves received his training on the States’ East Coast in French culinary techniques which he now applies to a different market, the Costa Rican feria.

So what will you encounter when you walk into 8vo Rooftop?

21st Century Ambiance

As your step out of the elevator, you will be greeted by one of the restaurant’s polite and extremely well-versed staff members who will then guide you to your table. On the way you will take note of the uniquely captivating ambiance–a sharp contrast to your typical Costa Rican soda, but upon a second look you may notice that the modern art design of this place actually includes elements of the local terrain like oceanic blue semi-circle booths or fiery towers to set the mood and the temperature of the evening. Then from your table you will finally have a chance to look out the wide windows and see a remarkable view of the city lights.

All Day Great Service

That is, of course if you come at night. 8vo is, in fact, open from 11 AM until 2 AM serving lunch, dinner and late night snacks. Come on a Sunday and you can enjoy your late morning eating Sangria-marinated Torrejas (a sweet bread similar to French toast) or a Mozzarella and Tomato Flatbread for brunch. Don’t worry, there’s gallo pinto too!

Our encounter, however, was at night, and we were not disappointed. Our server was both patient and informative. He was able to tell us not only which menu items would pair well with our drink selections of White Wine Sangria and a Guanabana Jalapeño Martini, but could suggest an entire progression of food items right down to a digestive after dinner drink.

One of a Kind Gourmet Plates

What’s truly incredible about 8vo’s menu is how innovative each item is. Each plate is truly unique to the restaurant, and if you want, they will even make it unique to you. Having a family of his own who are Celiac, Graves knows how important it is for people with food allergies to have their meals prepared with care. Eating gluten-free or dairy-free will not restrict you to the salad options either. Many of the menu items are already safe for those with special diets.

The trick to their recipes, I was told, is to take traditional Costa Rican ingredients and meals and reenvision them into something more contemporary. For example, the Tuna Poke takes fresh Ahi Tuna in a Sriracha-citrus sauce and places it on an avocado bed. Not having much strength for spice myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the citrus cut through the spice before the two were together calmed by the avocado. To the side of this entrada or appetizer is a plantain ceviche, almost similar to a sweeter, softer pico de gallo to be eaten with the surprisingly flavorful rice crisp. This dish, in particular, went very well with my sangria.

A couple of the more characteristic entrees include the Blackened Mahi Mahi with coconut rice and mango salsa, the Seared Red Snapper with avocado rice and a cilantro-jalapeño sauce, and the Coconut Seafood Stew which overflows with six different types of seafood. It’s amazing how creamy the coconut flavor makes this stew considering it seems to be an otherwise broth-based meal. Although 8vo Rooftop falls on the upper end as far as prices go,

Of course, not everyone is an adventurous foodie. Perhaps you have not yet acquired a taste for the local ingredients. Borrowing traditions from other parts of the world like the United States or the Mediterranean, 8vo Rooftop has something to ease you into the more tropical cuisine. From open until close patrons can order a traditional burger with just a little house twist: bacon jam and an apple-onion compote covers the burger within its light brioche bun.

A Company to Watch Out For

The best part about what’s going on at the 8th-floor restaurant is the unceasing creativity. Graves and the 8vo’s owner, Michael Katz, continue to expand horizons as they develop two other unexampled locations: the Central Bar in Escazu and Alma, a new restaurant opening up a month from now in Barrio Amon in San Jose. This collaboration will come to be known as Puros Dieces Hospitality Group, and it is an up and coming company you should look out for.

Without a doubt, you will be hearing more of 8vo Rooftop as it becomes increasingly discovered by foodies, cultural buffs and young professionals alike. Just last week the restaurant played host to a FRYDAY Afterwork event, placing it on the radar for the network of professionals worldwide. Many nights they boast live music too. With even more specialized locations and inventive dishes coming from this locally-loyal restaurant team, you better bet 8vo Rooftop is a place you should visit.