The glossy display case at the front of Ka’Kau Cake Shop and Restaurant is tough to resist when walking into the bakery-café in the western San José suburb of Escazú. Made by the restaurant’s German owner and pastry chef, Maik Kraemer, the pies and cakes on display tempt patrons with impressively decorated slices of banana toffee cake, raspberry tarts, chocolate cake and other delights. Nearby on the counter, fresh-baked muffins, cinnamon buns and other pastries offer more temptations.
But forget about the desserts for a second. (It’s not easy to do, as even the restaurant’s saccharin-sweet, pastel-green walls look cutesy enough to ignite your sweet tooth.) This cake shop is more than a bakery, and the main courses here are not to be overlooked.
Seating is available both inside and on the veranda overlooking the front parking lot of La Paco commercial center. (Ka’Kau is the latest in a long line of eateries that have occupied this locale.) If you’re eating lunch, try starting your meal with smoked salmon and cream cheese on a buttery croissant, or with one of the bakery’s signature Danishes, in flavors such as almond, apple-raisin and raspberry. Enjoy a coffee or specialty fruit drink before diving into the entrées.
Before lunch is served, customers receive a serving of sliced bread and two savory olive-based sauces to slather on top. The pastas, including ravioli and lasagna, and the risotto make tempting choices, and the salads come stacked high with greens. A specialty here is pork ribs, lavished with toppings that include the restaurant’s own “secret sauce.” The seafood is also a prime choice; try the fish and shrimp torte with a side of mango chutney and a salad, or the corvina in white wine and dill sauce, served with mashed potatoes and salad.
Such stellar lunch entrées make this cake shop more than just a place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Nonetheless, be sure to nab a slice of banana toffee cake on the way out; a meal at Ka’Kau wouldn’t be complete without it.
Prices range from ₡1,000 to ₡2,700 ($2 to $5.40) for baked goods and from ₡2,100 to ₡9,500 ($4.20 to $19) for lunch dishes. Ka’Kau also has a breakfast menu with dishes starting at ₡3,000 ($6).
Ka’Kau Cake Shop and Restaurant
Location: La Paco commercial center, opposite BAC San José, old road between Escazú and Santa Ana.
Hours: Monday and Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.