Writing a post like this is a reminder of why I even keep this blog. Because despite its famed Argentine chef, Francis Mallmann, El Garzón is located in the smallest town in the middle of nowhere in Uruguay, and I don’t even know how anyone would think to go here. The term hidden gem must have been invented to describe this place, I’m certain of it.
To get there, we drove about 40 minutes from our already somewhat obscure town of José Ignacio, and we found this restaurant that is beautifully decorated, like a countryside home, and serves incredible food: my favorite of the entire trip.
They first served us this complimentary drink:
Don’t ask me what it was, but I actually liked it. Proof this restaurant is magical or what?
Then they brought homemade bread with beet dip, olives and almonds:
Everything in here was good, but the sourdough was insane; the best sourdough I’ve ever had.
To start, Nathalie, Austin and I ordered the Zucchini Salad, mint, lemon zest, toasted almond flakes and parmesan:
Like zoodles! LOVED this.
My mom ordered the Burnt Tangerine Salad, endive salad, anchovies and cheddar:
She had no clue what this would be like but ended up liking it.
My dad got the Giant Langoustine a la plancha, Monticulo potatoes and herb salad:
He thought this was good.
Adam and Andrew got the Pizza a la brasa, burnt orange, arugula, mint, red onion,black olives and pecorino:
Such cool flavors in here and amazing crust, which is no surprise because of that amazing bread.
For the main course, my dad and I both ordered the Hake, gremolata and grilled seasonal vegetables:
I’ve gotten pretty tired of ordering plain white fish, but this totally turned it around for me. This was so buttery and simple and perfect. Wow.
Nathalie ordered the Salmon, with crushed potatoes and summer salad:
The presentation of this was really cool (you can’t quite tell but the salmon is on a sort of stand, rather than a normal plate). And Nathalie really enjoyed this, especially the salad.
My mom, Adam, Andrew and Austin ordered the Ribe eye with chimichurri, with side of tomato, onion, arugula and domino potatoes:
There were mixed reviews of this. Because this meat is from Uruguay and totally grass fed, they admitted that they weren’t so into that texture of meat. Some thought it was too tough. Some admitted that objectively the meat was great, but personally not their favorite.
For dessert, Austin and I ordered the Burnt fruit made in the wood fire oven, amaretto, mascarpone and mint:
Nathalie ordered Chocolate Ice Cream:
This was the weirdest thing ever! It did not have the texture of ice cream at all. It was cold, but tasted more like frosting or mousse. We all freaked out over it.
Adam got the Profiteroles:
This was served in such a cool way, they basically had a tin of profiteroles and they scooped some out right on to his plate. But taste-wise, this was totally normal, and delicious.
This was hands down my favorite meal of the trip because I was obsessed with all three of my courses and I loved the random location and the beautiful vibe of the restaurant. However, this meal was not universally beloved by my family. Some of them took issue with the chef’s main cooking technique, which is essentially burning food on purpose. And the steak dish which was ordered by over half the table wasn’t loved by all. Regardless, El Garzón is a dining experience not to be missed, just because it’s so different and random, and I personally think you’ll have a stellar meal.