Imagine yourself sitting in a dining room surrounded by fine porcelain, brass lighting and framed photographs of bygone days. It all seems very old world – cozy one might claim – and comforting. In a city where many restaurants make minimalist a meal and plastic has replaced the good old-fashioned wooden chair, El Comedor, is an elegant place.
You know you have stumbled upon a fine dining establishment when even the most simple of food choices can be turned into something out of the ordinary. Take a hamburger as an example. This North American classic can either be a satisfying meal or a disaster served between bread. Unfortunately in Bogotá, the second outcome tends to be more common. Burgers are a good starting point for measuring the quality of a restaurant. If a burger falls flat, keep your expectations low.
Close to the city’s Gastro zone to form part of the dining community, yet removed enough so that valet parking doesn’t gouge one’s wallet, El Comedor maintains a strong reputation as one of the city’s best dining venues. Its menu is simple and well conceived, with dishes separated not by price but by the size of one’s appetite.
In the “pequeños” category, I sample the grilled provolone with cherry tomatoes and shallots. Easily shared with friends, the cheese was toasted to golden brown and the vegetables cooled my palate. A pumpkin soup with toasted chiabata bread and blue cheese was another tempting option, especially on a cold and raining Bogotá night.
Most of the small appetizers aren’t that “pequeño” at all. In fact, with a couple of these opening delights and could enjoy a hearty lunch, best accompanied by a glass of wine or a freshly squeezed juice. The gruyere ciabatta half-sandwich with caramelized onions and house green salad was scrumptious.
The idea to create El Comedor came from a lack of affordable restaurants in Rosales, where enjoying a meal doesn’t have to be limited to a special occasion or one’s budget. El Comedor can accommodate sixty in its dining room and on a full night, the ambience is lively but not stuffy. The open bar area is ideal for drinks and El Comedor has a very complete selection of wines and spirits to choose from. One of the many house specialty drinks is the martini.
In the listing under “medianos” (medium) there are several pasta dishes and risotto. The menu includes average cooking times – most less than fifteen minutes – in case you are pressed for time. Look for the roast beef salad with artichoke, caramelized onions and champignons. A meatball pasta with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese was a delicious plate and shows El Comedor’s attention to using fresh ingredients. Not canned tomato paste here.
El Comedor cares about its food and clients. This is comforting; especially when during these “tough economic times” there seem to be limited options for eating well and for under $30,000 pesos per person. Formal and friendly, El Comedor has also created a menu that works with its setting. If you want to go upscale and impress – either on a date or with a business client – choose some of the hearty options on the “grande” selection.
Try the beef tenderloin in Sherry sauce, accompanied with asparagus, rosemary and Colombian criolla potato purée. The lamb stew with Arabian herbs and cous cous was yet another tempting option on the menu. One of our dining companions settled on the breaded veal with cherry tomatoes and rugula. Generous in its portions, the “Milanesa” ended up having to be shared at the table. My hamburger with gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, fresh guacamole and a heaping of fries was simply outstanding.
Besides the ample selection of beef and poultry dishes, there are options on the menu for vegans. A grilled sea bass in melted butter and accompanied with a fresh green salad in a citric dressing should be recommended. A tempting desert selection wrapped up an evening of great food and fine wines. It was all very comforting, especially when it came time to pay. That is the message behind El Comedor, and it lives up to its reputation splendidly – so much so that reservations are recommended. You don’t want to be left outside this “comfort” zone.
Carrera 5 No. 74-52
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