Thursday, 23 July 2009

Fine Dining – Garage Style …

A friend of a friend of a friend told us about Ristorante Valenti. It’s the way word gets around in Medellin.
From what I could gather the food was very good, but you ate in a garage of someone’s house. This I am used to, as in Asia a lot of peoples houses double up as their business. So to eat in a garage was no surprise to me, but to Colombians to eat good food in a garage was a little bit too much.
I’d also seen an interview with the chef, although I, at the moment cannot read it all, as my Spanish is not good enough yet. So no idea what it says.
So on a wet, cold Thursday night, we ventured into Envigado, a slightly affluent area of Medellin. When we found the restaurant (only by the house number, as no signs). We walked into a garage. In fact a double garage. There is a little bar, where a few people were drinking and chatting and lots of tables. All dressed up ready for business.
We had made a reservation, but we didn’t really need to, as only one other table was occupied by a group of six. As the night progressed, this seemed to be a group restaurant, a reason was needed, rather than just going to eat good food. Medellin isn’t into that yet.
There is no menu, no choice. You just decide wether you want a starter, main course, desert, or all 3. The starter is 12,000 pesos. The main course is 24,000 and the deserts are 3,000. So kinda normal prices for a lot of upscale restaurants in Medellin. They don’t actually tell you what you are getting. As it’s a surprise.
We chose the main course and a desert each, as since working in Café Boheme, I’d acquired a very sweet tooth.
What came was a quadruple selection of delights. Two ricotta cheese parcels with a blue cheese sauce. A chicken thigh on a bed of tomato sauce. A large prawn cooked in garlic butter. And an artichoke salad. All situated in the corners of the plate. I’m really not a fan of square plates. That went out in the 80’s, but Medellin is in its infancy for good food at the moment. So for your average Paisa this is cool stuff. For me the presentation was kinda messy. I wish the chef was more secure in his cooking, and only gave us 2 ir 3 of the four. It felt cluttered.
Everything was well cooked and seasoned. I’d forgotten how much I miss salads here. So far I haven’t brought any lettuce leaves here, as with the humidity it will wilt by the time it hits the fridge, and they are all the soft head variety. I have a preference for bitter leaves, and they are impossible to find here. Well once my seeds arrive they won’t be.
The chicken and tomato sauce was the low point of the 4. There was nothing wrong with it at all, but it was just chicken on a tomato sauce. No wow factor there. A bit boring that. The prawn and rav’s were nice. Well cooked and tasted pretty good. But not on the same plate please.
I am seeing a lot of fish and cheese dishes being paired up here. Why?
The desert was served in a large shot glass. It was a chocolate orange-coated fig, with a coconut and chocolate sauce, and loads of dusting. Small, but a nice end to a nice meal. Being English, we do rather like heavy puddings, but as in Rome.
I’d love to go back again to see if the Chef has more good food up his sleeve. I’d be very disappointed to get the same combination again.
All in all, by Medellin standards it was a breath of fresh air in a city lacking in different food options.
If you are in Medellin, try and enjoy …
Restaurante Valenti
Transversal 31 sur
No. 32D-20

1 comment:

Marlon D said...

Thank you for your blog. I thought i was the only one on earth that thought the food in colombia was nothing write home about.
I was a big fine dining eater in NY but now in Colombia I feel like I have to book a trip to italy or france or back to the US just to get a descent meal. I tried finding a great steak , no luck , tried finding great italian no luck . Don't know what to do since I am moving out here permanentely . I thought about growing my own vegetables also but what else can I do ? HELP PLEASE somebody save me :)