Restaurant Review: California Bar and Grill (Formerly Bar Rill)

So we were asked to join about 19 friends tonight for dinner. We went to a local restaurant now called California Bar and Grill it used to be called Bar Rill. New owners took over about a month and a half ago. The owner seems like a very nice man, as we have met him a couple of times now. We went when they 1st opened up and I decided not to do a review as it was their 1st night open. It wasn’t advertised as such he wanted a soft opening. A friend told us that they were going to have a salad bar! Oh yes there is that damn “S” word again. So we decided to go check it out. This was back before we went on the WCE (Worst Cruise Ever) back in the end of March. So not going to rehash that just click the link for the Salad war and the WCE is back up for this story. Well just an over view in case you don’t want to read those or you already have and don’t remember.


So we get there and our friends are already there and as soon as we walk in they let us know there is no salad bar. So we ask the owner and he tells us that they were not ready to open up the salad bar yet, but they will have it next week. Our problem is next week we will be on the cruise. So we figure ok we will check it out on our return. We did and no salad bar. Oh well lets move on. So “S” Word recap done. Flash forward to current!


Tonight we get there and a number of our group are already there and eating. They got there early. Cool so hopefully the kitchen won’t be over worked if everyone comes in at different times. So we sit down and about 10 minutes the waiter comes and asks us what we would like to drink. “Diet Coke please” He than says, “No we don’t have diet coke”  we than say, “Oh ok whatever you have that is diet.” He than responds, “Nothing” Oh great than just give us water. Well water is better for us. I think the waiter did tell the owner how upset we were that we had to drink water and they ran next door to the store and bought a 6 pack. Others came in and ordered diet coke as well, so we only had 1 coke. So we nursed it the entire time we were there.


Now for this bit keep in mind that this was a large group and the owner knew we were coming days before this event. We were there to support our Doctora Candy’s brother who was doing live music. So he had another big party of the family members for the singer. So he knows this way in advance. We look over the menu and the food seems good. Looks like stuff we can eat on our diet. The prices seem reasonable. So we wait and we wait and we wait. Now we are at about 45 min since we ordered our soda. Finally he comes over to take our order after I flag him down. I asked for Ensalada Verde, Ceveche, and I order the whole fish. Nope they don’t have that. Ok now after 45 minutes of thinking I am going to have a whole fish I now have to look at the menu again. Which i had to borrow from someone else as he took ours to give to someone else as they didn’t have enough menus to go around. He than tells me they have other fish. GREAT! I say, “Sólo el pescado con una ensalada verde y verduras a la parrilla” Now mind you my Spanish isn’t that good, but he spoke English and I said in in English as well be he seemed rushed. My wife than ordered the Filet mignon paused to see if he would say they didn’t have it and ordered it medium rare as usual. He repeated it back and said medium and before she could correct him he ran off. Ok that is fine if it comes out medium she will deal with it. Whatever.


So again we wait……..and wait…..Mean while mind you our one set of friends who sat across from us ordered before we did. Again mind you they came in after us. Again whatever. Here he comes with our food. Wait didn’t they order before us? OK oh well Pura Vida. So here are pictures of what we got.




Now remember I ordered Ceveche which looks nice, but look at my plate. A breaded fish which I was not told would be breaded. A side salad, rice, beans, avocado and a plantain. Yea so not what I had ordered. So I try the ceveche 1st. Its room tempature? Ok not sure about this. It was ok, but nothing to write home about and may have tasted better if it was actually cold. Ok no problem. Looked at the beans can’t have those but I will try it. Oil just sitting on the top and it was very runny. So ok dip the tip of my spoon in it so I can taste it. Oh my got my sugar just shot though the roof!!!! Ok so I’m thinking haven’t had sugar in a long time so had someone taste it. Yep they agreed. Lots of sugar in the beans. Not what I was expecting. So I move onto the salad. Oh by the Gods do the restaurant owners not know what a salad spinner is? The salad was so wet I could have used it to wash my hands. I tilted the plate and water just ran off it. So I taste it. Nope no taste what so ever. Ok lets move on. I take a tiny piece of the plantain. Nope yuck. On to the fish. It was actually warm inside! Plus! Score! Well other than trying to scrape off the batter. Which I couldn’t so I just ate it as is, because I was so hungry at this point. The fish itself had a good flavor, but it was ruined by the batter and the fact that it was deep fried! So there was grease everwhere. YUCK! The rice was rice. It was ok no salt no flavor at all just rice. Now here it he kicker. This next picture is the same dinner. Do you see any difference? The quality was the same as mine. BAD! Look at it and than look at mine. So consistency in preparation is lacking yet again.


So the this next picture is my wife’s meal. Again salad sucks. The steak if you remember was suppose to be medium rare, he heard medium. It came out raw!!!!!! It also was just room temperature and the bacon it was wrapped in was almost not cooked at all either. I told my wife to send it back, but nope she didn’t as she was starving at this point as well so she ate it. She did say it was seasoned well and it didn’t seem tough. So two good points.


This last picture is the price. The owner did knock off 10% for the issues. Well that was nice.Considering I sent back almost my entire plate and 1/2 the ceveche 10% is just a gesture. He would have scored more ponts had he just charged me for the 2 diet cokes and my wife’s meal.



Now remember my friends who ordered before us? Well they got their food last. 3 couples and one single person who had ordered after them (got the same food as them some of them) got their food 1st. Don’t know if they forgot them or what. So I had to flag him down and ask where their food was. He apologized and in about 15 minutes their food came out. Her’s was the same as mine above and his was shrimp tacos. He said the shrimp tacos were ok. The shrimp seem a bit greasy. I guess it was the butter garlic sauce. It only came with the shrimp on the tortilla and a little cup of chopped onions and a little cup of salsa. Not really what I would call tacos but ok.


I surveyed the table of 19 people. Some said their food was ok and other said it was not good. Most of the complaints was no flavor and room temperature food. We had one young server doing our table of 19 and a smaller table of 6 or so. I felt sorry for the poor kid. Oh and to top it all off the salad bar is still listed on his menu! Even though two weeks or more ago he told me he wasn’t doing it.

So lets wrap this up shall we they get 1 seashell1out of 5. I’m only giving them 1 as the place was nice, the live music by Clasicos del Almawas really good and the company we were with. I’m sorry to say this is now our 3rd trip there and we were disappointed each time. I have a 3 strikes rule, so we won’t be back! It must be something about that place as when it was Bar Rill we had the same issues with the food and service. If this as a drop in group out of the blue I could have cut him some slack, but he planned the live music and he knew there were going to be two large groups. No excuse. Sorry. I hate doing bad reviews, but sometimes you have to call it as you see it.

Pura Vida!


Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: California Bar and Grill (Formerly Bar Rill)

  1. rosie

    I was there Saturday too, thought the food was ok. Had buffalo chiken wings which they were good and a little bit of carne mexicana and chips “courtesy of the house, which was delicious. Buy the big disappointment was the tacos i ordered, they were beef tacos served with cilantro and onions on the side. I thought it was offensive to serve “tacos Mexicanos” without any kind of salsa. I asked the waiter for it and he said they didn’t have any kind of salsa. They were not complete–you can not serve a taco without salsa, it is not ok.


    • If it was their 1st night open I could excuse some of it. He has been running the place on a soft opening for over a month. If you have not worked things out by than, I’m sorry but you should just pack it up and move onto the next thing. I know that is harsh, but it is the reality of it.


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