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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gastronomic Desire at the Drugstore


My husband and I recently took a trip to historic Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, a charming seaside village settled by the Portuguese in the 1600's.  After checking into our hotel, we asked  the concierge to recommend a good restaurant in the area.  "You must go to El Drugstore," he responded, "you'll really like it". ("El Drugstore"--Uh, okay, thanks, we'll be sure and check it out...maybe). Hoping to avoid a potentially over-priced tourist trap, we decided to pass on that. At the nearest café,  we instead enjoyed perfectly good traditional fare: chivito, an artery-hardening but incredibly delicious Uruguayan sandwich: a thin slice of churrasco beef, with cheese, olives, totatoes, ham, mayo and a fried egg. This was accompanied by papas fritas (French fries) and a bottle of agua con gas (seltzer).

Chivito






Our homeless amigo is also a fan of chivito and waited patiently for our leftovers.
 
The following day, while taking in the sights of this truly enchanting city, we happened upon two antique cars parked on a cobblestone street--one of them filled with flowers in the trunk. I love old cars...I mean, I really LOVE old cars, so I went over to inspect them and take a few pictures.  At some point we realized that we were standing in front of the very restaurant that had been recommended to us back at our hotel.  "El Drugstore" had me at the 1929 Model A Ford. It's interior was set up for an intimate dining experience for two, complete with table and place settings. To my dismay, my husband steadfastly refused to eat in a car.  After several attempts to change his mind and a tolerable amount of moping, I finally gave in and we ate dinner inside the restaurant that night.






















Upon entering the restaurant, one encounters a strikingly funky décor; a kind of fun-house chic style interior with walls painted in primary colors--every inch of them awash with bold paintings and posters. The café has four rooms, some tables covered with polka-dot tablecloths accompanied by coordinating folding chairs. The rooms in the back are decorated with an unapologetic plethora of furniture styles, accented with assorted found objects ranging from children's toys to object d'art.




 There was Frida...

 
     And Geisha....
Marrakesh....

 And Spanish Rococo...

Anyone who knows me well knows that I tend to seek out restaurants and bars with plenty of atmosphere. As a designer, I am inclined towards the aesthetic by default and it would follow that I  need to have my visual senses satiated.  "El Drugstore"  certainly did not disappoint on that front, and even though it bordered on over-the top-eclecticism, I was delighted by it's fun and quirky style.  That aside, when it comes down to brass tacks, if the food isn't good, a restaurant is bound to fail.  I certainly will not return to a place that does not have good food.  I have seen mixed reviews regarding El Drugstore's extensive menu, which includes seafood, tapas, fusion and vegan fare. But as far as we were concerned, our gastronomic experience was nothing short of orgasmic.  While I enjoyed the chivito a day prior, I am not typically a big meat eater. So at El Drugstore we opted for a mélange of seafood platters, one of which was a sumptuous platter of gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic). We accented our meal with a excellent Clerico (white sangria). Muy rico!

Even the menu was cool...


There's no denying it's a tourist destination, but the prices were manageable,  and our meal was great--not only would I recommend it, I'd go back in an instant.

"El Drugstore" has an outdoor café, music at night and takes reservations.

179 Vasconçellos
Colonia, Uruguay

TEL: 011-598-522-5241