One might be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped back in time as you duck through the doorway of the sixteenth century building that houses El Buen suspiro; a restaurant which we discovered has a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Colonia and for good reason.
Although during the day this restaurant is actually a small shop selling local Uruguayan gourmet cheese, Uruguayan wine and condiments at night it transforms into an intimate and romantic venue for couples on a short trip to Colonia. Tables are hard to come by in this tiny restaurant which only has enough room for around four couples inside next to the burning traditional wood fire and another two outside where you can enjoy the clear starry sky while you eat. Advance bookings are taken and I would recommend booking a table if you are only staying for a night. You can find their number on the website. We were lucky that it was warm enough to sit outside and were shown to our seat in the romantic backyard of the small restaurant. Promtly, we were handed an extensive menu by our young and attentive waiter. The speciality of this restaurant is “picada” which is essentially a collection of cheeses, meats and other morsels which you can sample along with your wine. I was hesitant at first because often picadas here in South America cost an arm and a leg but often fail to fill you up. We opted for the “picada suspiros” which contained the following: Four different types of cheese:
- Queso Colonia Nicant, Nueva Helvecia- Santa Frida
- Queso Colonia saborizado (orégano / ajo y perejil) – Villa Celina – San Pedro
- Queso tipo Parmesano Rino Laudato, Tres Esquinas
- Queso tipo Sbrinz La Cumbre, Nueva Helvecia
The cheeses come with a condiment called Salsa Agridulce which was a delicious blend of sweet and savoury red onion and eggplant. Almost even more moreish than the selection of cheeses were the Tartas de Verdura You can select two from a variety of tarts on offer – we had the cheese and onion and spinach. Finally, if you aren’t saluting enough yet, the picada is topped off with a Salamí and a chorizo and I have to say that the chorizo was the most unique and appetising taste I have ever had the fortune to experience in my mouth.
The whole thing cost 280 uruguayan pesos and when it was arrived I was happy with the size and couldn’t wait to get started. However, before we could start our waiter had a warning and advised us that it was better to eat our way from the milder cheeses to the stronger ones and which cheeses and meats went best the conserve.
We also had one of Buen Suspiro’s wine desgustations. This is a fantastic chance to try some of the locally produced wines of the region. You are given a choice of five locally produced wines from the menu and are given a half glass of each throughout your meal. Half glass is a bit of an understatement as actually we were given nearly a full glass of each. All of the wines were absolutely fantastic and even better when you consider that each bottle of wine costs around seven dollars. An absolute bargain when you compare to the cheap supermarket slosh! Our favourites were the Chardonay Cuna Cerros San Juan which was a medium dry white with pear notes and the house wine Tinto Tannat which was a light red wine with a hint of strawberry. Very very yummy indeed. The waiters were more than happy to assist with wine choices and pairings although you will need to speak a little bit of Spanish to get the best out of the experience.
All in all the evening was fantastic and I would recommend the restaurant to anyone who is planning to spend some time in Colonia. The selection of wines, cheeses and meats on offer are an amazing way to enjoy some of the best that Uruguay has to offer. Now I just have to hope that my local supermarket starts importing these fantastic wines!