August 22, 2004
Now, The Better Half loves to tango, and she is an excellent Argentine tango dancer. It’s through her that I became involved in it, and well, let’s just say that she makes me look good, and I’ve mastered enough to make myself not look like an idiot (most of the time, anyway). Once we checked out the menu and deemed the cuisine acceptable, we made a mental note of our location, knowing we would be back.
After a pre-dinner beer and olives at the Plaza Mayor, we returned to the scene of our discovery. Turns out that Colonia del Sacramento is a Uruguayan restaurant, which explains the tango connection (Uruguay lies just across the Plata de la Rio from Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango). I’m not sure how many people are privy to the subtleties of Uruguayan cuisine, so let me see if I can sum up the basic concept for you in just two words: grilled meat.
While there’s something here for most everyone, the menu does favor red meat grilled over an open flame. We ordered a bottle of red wine, salads, flank steak, and beef ribs. Both entrees were accompanied by French fries, and as near as we could tell were prepared using the same marinade. Interestingly, the inch-thick ribs were cut crossways through the bone, sort of flying in the face of conventional rib wisdom, I suppose. Maybe it’s just a Uruguayan thing. Nonetheless they were delicious, as was the steak. We finished off our meal with desserts; mine was a decadent panqueque dulce.
The atmosphere at Colonia del Sacramento is quite pleasing: dark, rich colors, brickwork, and thick, sturdy ceiling beams. Original paintings depicting tango musicians and dancers enhanced the theme, and a couple of faux window frames made of the same stout wood as the ceiling beams added a nice touch. The kitchen, located in the back corner, is open to the dining room, accentuating the dining experience with the scents and sizzles of the grill. There’s also an enclosed terrace, which makes for pleasant dining in good weather.
Lest we forget about the tango, which is what brought us here to begin with, remember? After inquiring with the manager, we learned that what was in store for us was not a dance open to dinner guests, but a "performance", or what we’d call demonstration tango. In other words, do-not-attempt-this-at-home-tango. As promised, the dancers came out for two or three numbers for what I’d describe as a very athletic, albeit crowd-pleasing performance.
All told, Colonia del Sacramento offers fine food and a very unique and eminently enjoyable dining experience.
My 1-10 ratings:Food - 7; Service - 7; Atmosphere - 7
Additional information:District: Old MadridMetro: Ópera (L2, L5)
From journal Madrid From Kilometer Zero