QCOSTARICA – There is a fun new place to have lunch in Downtown San José. It is called Talentum, a combination restaurant, coffee house and art gallery.
Talentum was previously located near the Atlantic Train Station, just up the hill from Parque Nacional. Last year, Talentum relocated to the heart of historic Barrio Amon. It is now located on Avenida 11, next door to the Mona Lisa Hotel and Casino.
You know it is going to be a fun place as you approach Talentum. The building was previously a staid and proper private home built in the 1940’s. But the artsy folks who run Talentum decided to attach chairs to the outside wall.
When we asked Hilda, who oversees the food service, why they did this, she simply said, “Did it attract your attention?”
“Of course it did.” We replied.
“Well, then.” Said Hilda. “Why not? Por que no?”
Each day, Talentum’s chef, Sebastian, puts together a lunch special for ¢4,500 colones. On the day we were there, it included a tasty chicken breast with fried potatoes, a side of vegetables, soup, salad, desert and a blended fruit drink. Quite a bargain.
In addition, their menu includes soups, sandwiches and pizza. Later in the afternoon, patrons will drop by for coffee and one of their home-made pastries or pies.
But food is only part of the feast at Talentum. Everywhere you look you will see objects of art; some of them whimsical and a bit silly, and others that are very impressive pieces. They range from mobiles hanging from the ceiling to oil paintings to carvings and ceramics. Almost all the pieces are from, what Talentum calls, “emerging” Costa Rican artists.
On the second floor there are two showrooms that are reserved for exhibits by a single artist. These exhibits generally last a month.
Currently, in the first upstairs showroom there is a collection called “Urbanografia” by artist Luis Diego Parra. These are pictures of typical Costa Rican scenes that have been transferred to hand-made paper with the use of solvents. The effect is to give the images a soft pastel look that appears somewhat nostalgic.
In the second showroom, you will find stunning landscapes done with acrylics by artist Francisco Chacon. These are predominately lush green images that capture some of the beauty of Costa Rica’s mountains and rainforests.
Among the pieces on the ground floor, one of the standouts is called “Invisible Woman.” It is a fascinating work that was carved in Costa Rican hardwood by Jaquielin Cordoba. You will have to stand back and look at it for a minute. Take your time . . . look . . . take a breath, and suddenly, like magic, you will see the invisible woman. It is a very creative and interesting piece of art.
Talentum is open weekdays from 11a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On Saturdays it is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed Sundays. Location: Avenida 11, Calle 5, next to Hotel Mona Lisa.
Talentum is one of the latest positive developments in Barrio Amon. This area, just north of the Holiday Inn tower, has been in decline for decades. But in the last few years, there have been new restaurants, galleries, a jazz club and even a wine shop locating in this neighborhood, helping to restore it to its prominence of years past.
Michael Miller is the author of the first and only guidebook that focuses on Downtown San José, Costa Rica, titled: The Real San José.
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