Friday, March 16, 2007
Balcón del Lobo
This past Friday night, I had a craving to try a new restaurant. I recalled how we stumbled upon a spot not to long ago, when we were walking from the Rambla to Bar Tabaré. At first we thought we spied an outdoor family dinner party, and then realized that nested among the residential area of Punta Carretas, there was a little hideaway called Balcón del Lobo.
Walking past the cava, the room set a side for private dinner parties, we climbed up marble steps to the entrance of the restaurant. Immediately we were warmly welcomed by the smells of the meat roasting on the parilla and the grilling provolone along side it. The restaurant had ample room inside, and with both the aromas and the cozy "at home feel", it was tempting to chose an indoor seat. But the outdoor patio looked equally lovely, and already had more diners, so we chose a seat which would give me a good view of the happenings of the restaurant.
After walking from Pocitos, we had worked up a good appetite and were ready for dinner. The menu did not have many options for appetizers, so we chose a salad to share. Out of a dozen or so different choices, we ordered a corn, tomato, onion, and bell pepper mix. There were several other selections, including todoverde - a mix of green leafy vegetables, rojo - beets, tomatoes, and red peppers, waldorf, zanahoria y pasas - raisins and carrots served with honey and mustard.
The second page of the menu listed their fish choices and sauces, followed by pastas and other Italian fare, and finished off with the wide offerings of parilla.
As pasta and parilla are always common, I try to look for something special on the menu, but not too different. That is when restaurant tasting in Montevideo, if I see "fusion food" I have learned silence the temptations to chose them. Curried salads, stir-frys, "thai" inspired pasta, or reductions of ginger and honey bring up red flags for me. Not that the food will be BAD. I just know it will not be what I am used to, or what I am hoping for.
However, I find Italian choices are often good. A simple risotto with mushrooms and otras verduras sounded just perfect and so my decision was rapidly made. My husband was going Italian as well, and after wavering back and forth between stuffed eggplant and spaghetti putanseca, he decided on the later.
After finishing our salad and first glass of wine, the main courses were delivered to our table. My risotto was perfect - exactly the tastes and textures that I was hoping for. The risotto rice was al dente, that is firm and chewy, and the chef was generous with the fresh mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, onion, and eggplant that was embedded in the risotto tower.
While my husband liked his choice, it was slightly different then he expected. If you like anchovies, he would highly recommend his dinner. But for him, it lacked the picante of the dried red pepper flakes, and had a very strong anchovy presence. Generous sprinklings of grated cheese helped balance out the flavors. He agreed that the risotto was delicious, and helped me finish up the last few bites.
The ambiance was so tranquil and the Brazilian music was so nice, that we wanted to linger a little longer. Solution? Dessert.
I have often seen panqueque de manzana on dessert menus. I had been imagining an American breakfast pancake with dulce de leche instead of syrup, but when someone told me it was more crepe-like with a caramelized sugar coating, I was suddenly more interested. Neglecting the todochocolate, flan de coco, mocha ice cream, or "diabetic" cheesecake, we choose a panqueque de manzana with vanilla ice cream.
A thin crepe was covered with equally thin apple slices which had been carmelized in sugar. My husband loved it. As you can see from the picture, the apple crepe was served hot, and the ice cream was melting before we even dug in. For me it lacked the sweetness I was craving, as the sugar had been caramelized a bit too much leaving a slightly burnt taste on my palate. Just a few less seconds on the stove and perhaps a serving dulce de leche to sweeten it up would have been perfect.
All told, I would definitely return. The grilled meats smelled amazing, the salads were diverse, and there were filled pastas to try. If nothing else, "Round Two for Risotto" would be fine by me.
Cubierto charge, salad to share, two main dishes, bottle of water, 1/4 liter of wine, and dessert to share
Total: $504 pesos before tip
J.Zorillas de San Martín n. 93
Tel: 711 1273