What happens when you decide to try your luck on a Saturday night and pop into a trendy restaurant without reservations? Correct, most probably you will you end up walking the streets after 10pm and eating some nasty trash food next to some drunk teenagers and a guy begging for your change. But on rare occasions while aimlessly wandering the streets you land a lucky punch and find a hidden gem.
That’s how I walked into a small restaurant in the town of Manantiales one night close to midnight and to my surprise I had the best dinner (twice) of my entire stay in Punta del Este. Of course you may argue that when you have been starving for long enough already the sight of a rotten apple “will look like curry to a pisshead” (just to quote one of my favourite villains) that’s why I returned a week later just to make sure that my palate was not affected by the circumstances.
The first time around I started with a beef carpaccio, which was very tasty and ordered shrimps with patatas bravas as a main course. Especially the bravas are a tricky one; first because I am very critical with Spanish food abroad and secondly because although it’s a very common and simple dish it is hard to find good ones. The trick here is to find the right balance between spicy and “i-can’t-feel-my-face-hot”; which may work for some artists but not for my belly. Actually the spice should intensify the flavour and not kill it. After my verdict there was some cheering and a hint of shimmy out of the kitchen…
During my second visit I ordered the tiradito the salmon, which is a peruvian dish; think of salmon sashimi seasoned with a citrus sauce) as a starter and for the main dish I asked for the ojo de bife; a classic. Both dishes were excellent once again.
An extra point for the fresh and warm bread basket. Nice touch.
As a last remark let me tell you that for Punta del Este the prices are reasonable, which was another pleasant surprise. Of course it is still Punta (no 5$ dinners here) but the quality/price ratio is good.
Unfortunately my pictures are quite blurry, therefore I suggest that you visit the place yourself to get a better idea.