Dining at Riu Palace does not fit into the 5* category. The food is not bad or inedible, it's just that the preparation and presentation are not appealing especially to Americans. Food is plentiful but repetitious. Cuts of meat are not as in the US - steaks are thin, chops are fatty, no large shrimp or lobster were served in any restaurant all week. Small shrimp are presented with shells and heads still on - fruit and salads are delicious and so is the soup. Desserts are kept on a refrigerated table - good in the hot temperatures - but they soon appear "sweaty" and buffet food sits on the steam table too long. Hot dogs and hamburgers are all cooked ahead and left to sit although it is a "grill station". If you get to the station at the time the meat or fish is being grilled, you will find it moist and flavorful - a few minutes later it is cold and dry. Fresh made pasta is great, but it soon get cold sitting under a warming lamp.
RIU Palace serves breakfast and lunch buffet style and has five specialty - à la carte - restaurants that require reservations. Two sittings - 6:30pm and 9pm. These are made on a daily basis between 10am and 1pm. There is no room service but we did see morning coffee being delivered to a few rooms by waiters. Restaurants are extremely well staffed and waiters are eager to please, but a request for cappuccino, ice water, or a cocktail necessitates a trip to other kitchen or a bar in another building - so it does take time.
A themed buffet is served each night. It would help to know ahead of time if it will be Mexican, Italian, or Asian, so that you could make reservations accordingly at other restaurants. You learn of the theme as you enter the dining room by observing the decor or the dress of the waiters. The "Gala" Buffet on Thursday night was the most elaborate - It featured dishes from each of the à la carte restaurants. Food in the buffet is of the same quality as the restaurants but it is very brightly lit, and of course very busy feeling because of the self serving.
Long pants are required for men each evening - even at the buffet. Ladies wore everything from pants to short skirts, sundresses and formal evening wear with jewels, sequins, and chiffon. The Europeans were more formally dressed than Americans.
I don't consider myself a food "snob". We consider dining an experience - not just "eating". We expect freshly prepared food, served appealingly at the proper temperature whether it be a sandwich, pizza, or a gourmet meal. Ambience, pacing of the meal and conversation are all a major part of our enjoyment. We looked forward to meals at two other high end resorts in Punta Cana in the past. The RIU Palace will not be our choice again because of the food unless we read of improvements in future reports.