Life in the Slow Lane: Restaurant Week 2019 with Jan Benton

Is it just me, or do most people like food? How about mouthwatering food that makes your tummy applaud and your tastebuds scream, “More!” What if we threw in the fact it would be offered in first-rate restaurants, created by expert chefs, and delivered by professional servers? and the price would be deeply discounted. Sounds like a dream but it’s real and it’s here. The 15th annual Restaurant Week will be celebrated in many restaurants throughout Vallarta-Nayarit, May 15 to June 10. See? I told you it was dreamy…the “week” part is actually twenty-seven days of deliciousness, so start filling your calendars with reservations.
We all know this area has long been popular as a culinary destination featuring cultural flavours. More cities around the globe are celebrating gastronomy, highlighting their local and fresh ingredients by organizing annual “festivals”, giving new or existing restaurateurs an opportunity to offer their fare to eager diners. This year, of the more than sixty participating restaurants, three are located in Bucerias; Boqueria Hidalgo, (Calle Hidalgo 2F), Lupita Mexican & Seafood, (Buenito Juarez 51), and Mark’s Bar and Grill, (Lázaro Cárdenas 56). I caught up with the very busy Jan Benton, Chef, and wife to Mark of Mark’s Bar and Grill, for a bit of insight into Restaurant Week and culinary bliss in general. Mark’s is participating from May 15 to May 31, and this will be their 6th year of involvement with the event.

Kelly: Jan, how did you and Mark meet?
Jan: Mark and I met at the restaurant at table 5 in 1991 when he was serving beer and his turkey francs. I had opened a boutique in Puerto Vallarta for a year or so then moved to Bucerias when Mark asked me if I would like to open a shop by the restaurant. I did, and it is still there. (Jan Marie Boutique Gallery). Mark and I married in November 1992 and I became involved in the restaurant. First was writing the menu and deciding on the taste of Mark’s. I am self taught, (chef), grew up in New Zealand, where homegrown vegetables and fruits gave me a palate that has given me an interest in food and its creative side. The first challenge was to find fresh product, and we were very fortunate to find a grower for our vegetables, and a family to bring us fresh fish and shrimp, who still bring us the best product available. We gradually evolved both the menu and design of the restaurant, which is still an ongoing process.
Kelly: How do you decide what to offer on the special Restaurant Week menu, and why do you participate?
Jan: Each year for Restaurant Week we select dishes from past favorites using seasonal products with new creations inspired from world flavours. At regular price, this year’s three-course dinner costs 560 pesos. For Restaurant Week at only 399 pesos you have a savings of 161 pesos (nearly 30%). We participate because we are open all year and it is an opportunity for people to discover us, and other new restaurants with creative dishes at great prices.
Kelly: May we have your thoughts on how the Bucerias restaurant scene has developed over your many years here?
Jan: Bucerias, a humble fishing village, has become a destination with an international food scene with so many exciting options. Bucerias is not a place to be missed!
See all prix fixe menus at restaurantweekpv.com. And hurry…by the time you read this you’ll have already missed one day. Buen Provecho!