El Conquistador (Cancún, Quintana Roo)

Our third night in Cancún was another indulgence in the various restaurants available in our All-Inclusive resort package, heading to the sister resort The Royal Islander located near the south end of the Hotel Zone, for a trip to their in-house restaurant, El Conquistador. Much like our visit to Captain’s Cove a few nights before, El Conquistador was a departure from the local Yucatecan places, offering a classic steakhouse experience, with a good wine list, white linens, and a wide variety of steak and pasta dishes, leaning a bit towards Italian in overall style.

I started off with a simple soup starter, the soup of the day. This was a corn soup, and the rendition here was quite good: a deep, rich corn flavor, a very smooth texture, and some bright notes from some lime; this was a great example of a simple soup executed well. I’d be happy to get this.

One of the byproducts of going to a restaurant in the hotel zone is that many of them are catering to the same crowd and culinary interests, so it’s not uncommon to see the same basic menu item at most of the restaurants, especially when showcasing local ingredients: I think I saw shrimp cocktail and carpaccio on just about every menu we saw in Cancún. But the quality of Yucatecan beef had generally been good at the previous places, so we decided to see how a steakhouse would do, and we were quite pleased with their rendition of this classic dish: immaculately-sliced, well-marbled beef that had been aged just enough to concentrate the flavor a bit. Topped with a nice woody Parmesan, just a touch of oil and pepper, a few dollops of Dijon mustard, and a roasted wedge of orange, this was a very enjoyable version, with each bite providing a rich beef flavor complemented, but not overwhelmed, by the dressing.

Since El Conquistador is a steakhouse, we couldn’t resist one of my bistro-style favorite, a good roasted marrow bone. Here the presentation was simple and classic: a split bone, roasted to the point of just starting to char, and lightly dressed with a corn, herb and vinegar sauce, served over buttered toast. Again, the tick here was letting the flavorful marrow flavors ooze out without overwhelming them with the toppings, and the balance here was spot on; it was nice chasing down every little bit of marrow with the toast.

For my main course, I stuck with the steakhouse theme. While El Conquistador had an impressive array of steak options, including tomahawks and rib-eyes, knowing that I still had the better part of a week of “resort dining”, I opted for one of the lighter offerings, the filet mignon served with a brandy/black pepper sauce. This was good, around a half-pound filet, bacon wrapped, grilled to a perfect medium-rare with a great sear and a perfect interior. The brandy sauce was a nice, bold complement to the good steak, and also good for dipping the grilled vegetables, a medley of carrots, string beans, snap peas, and beets. Overall, a pleasant-but-not-oversized, well-executed steak dinner, and thoroughly satisfying.

And anyone want to guess what we got for dessert? If you’ve been reading the last few reviews, you won’t be surprised to find us ordering…. Mayan Coffee. El Conquistador’s version retained the excellent preparation, and amped up the coffee factor by using both Xtabentún and Kahlua in their rendition. But both an enjoyable show and a pleasant conclusion to the meal.

Overall, we loved El Conquistador; they offered a nice detour away from the classic resort Mexican fare, and quite frankly offered a great value and quality for those doing all-inclusive dining, with only minimal surcharges. We were certainly satisfied.

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