Saturday, 31 October 2009

Versalles – An Old Favourite



I have been eating at Versalles for more than 10 years now. I first discovered it whilst I was staying at a small hotel in central Medellin. The smell of those Argentinean and Chilean empanadas made sure I was a regular visitor.
From then on, whenever we visited Medellin to see family. I always made sure we ate a meal there.
Now, as we are living here, we really have no need to goto into the center. But if we are there, then lunch has to be had at Versalles.
The food is not amazing, not out of this world, but what they do they do it well. Plus the restaurant has a charm that is rarely found in the world these days.
The service is definitely old school. All the waiters wear white jackets and look as old as the place itself. I’m sure some of them have been there since day 1. But even for their age they flit between tables, picking up empty plates, delivering food, greeting customers like old friends. Some of the regulars I am sure are.
The walls have a scattering of photos of Argentinean writers, artists and intellectuals. The restaurant was at the forefront of an intellectual scene in Medellin in the 50’s. I’m pretty sure the d├ęcor is today as it was when it opened. Just a lick of paint every 10 years or so. Sometimes I close my eyes and apart from the accents I could be in a small family place in Buenos Aires.
What they specialise in apart from the empanadas is the milanesa. Theirs is a thin piece of beef, breadcrumbed and lightly fried until golden. This is served with some papas ala francesa and a tomato, onion and lettuce salad. Oils and vinegars are awarded separately. As you would expect to find in B.A. you can also have it with a sweet tomato sauce, which is the Napolitana option.
Their menu of the day is always : soup, grilled meat, rice, chips and a salad. Well we are in Medellin, and those Paisas love their carbs. You also get a juice, which changed daily, followed by a bowl of ice cream and a coffee. It is more than you would pay elsewhere, but you do get more, and hey, with great old fashioned service like this its well worth it.
It kinda reminds me of a little of the New Piccadilly that once stood the test of time in central London, until some greedy land developers forced them to close by upping their rent. I hope this does not happen here, as every city needs a place to remind you of a gentler time. And if any city needs that, it’s Medellin.

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