Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hacienda San Isidro

I was fortunate enough to be able to have dinner at Hacienda San Isidro a few nights ago and I simply have to share the experience with you.  It was amazing!

The hacienda is at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano and is higher in elevation than Cotacachi.  The higher we drove, the more we climbed into the clouds.  I love the way the light fog blankets everything just a bit and softens all the edges.

If I had been a clear evening we would be looking at the mountain in this photo.

The hacienda casa is beautiful.  It is over 100 years old but the hacienda itself is over 300 years old.  In addition to serving meals, they gave guest rooms, grow their own organic fruits and vegetables, and have a small herd of cows that provide the dairy for the restaurant.

The entire building is filled with antiques and there's something different and interesting around every corner.  These statues appear to be very old.  Unfortunately, my Spanish isn't yet good enough to ask where these came from or what their history is.

I had no problems figuring out what the two things in the center are.  It's a little difficult to see in the photo but there's a hole in the middle of each vessel.  They're chamber pots.  I'm not sure I'd put them in the front window of my restaurant but they are definitely lovely, regardless of what they are.  Take a look at the window sill, while you're at it as well as the depth of the wall in the photo above this one.  All the walls are that thick.  It's pretty impressive.  It's going to take quite a bit to knock this place down.

This is one of the dining rooms.  There are only two other tables in here.  One of them is suitable for two and the other could accommodate six but that was the table where we sat so they removed not only two of the place settings but the two extra chairs.

The meal was superb.  The chef here has worked in 5-star restaurants and that skill is definitely evident in the meals he prepares.  I don't know what the truth of the matter is but I was once told that he was tired of the rat race when cooking in a large restaurant.  Here, there are times when they have a large banquet group and they have a building specifically for that purpose but for the most part I suspect there are seldom more than 20 people there for dinner and there's basically one seating for the night.  I can see where that would be a lovely opportunity for someone accustomed to feeding a much larger crowd every night.

Back to the actual meal.  My table companions all ordered the Steak Hacienda with a chocolate sauce.  We thought that might be a bit like Mexican molĂ© sauce but they tell me it wasn't.  I'll have to order it myself one of these days if I want to find out what it actually tastes like since no one offered me a taste and I wasn't feeling like I wanted to ask.  As it was, one of the people offered me a part of her steak both because she getting very full and she wanted me to be able to taste how good it was and experience how tender it was.  It was butter knife tender and amazing!  I ordered the chicken in fig sauce.  Oh my.  The chicken nearly melted in my mouth.  We were all very pleased with our selections.  While I was very happy with my meal, next time I'm getting the steak.

Let's start at the beginning.  There is a lovely room where people wait until it's time to go to their table.  Out there our hostess asked if any of us would like their famous hot spiced wine.  I've had it before so I strongly recommended it.  Three of us indulged and agreed it was fabulous.  I've asked the owner for her recipe before and she says she'll get it for me but that's one of those things where someone will tell you what they think you want to hear and then just ignore you.  It's fine.  I understand it's a family recipe and she's trying to not be rude.

We were seated in my favorite room for dining.  The server is a delightful woman who speaks a little more English every time I go there.  She took our orders and started us out with grilled bread and what may have been homemade butter.  It was lovely.  That was followed with a soup the ingredients of which were a total mystery other than the plantain.  That was followed by our entree.  Just to add a little description to the steak, it was very possibly 3" of filet mignon.  It was truly a meal to be savored.  None of us were up to dessert but after having been there before, I know it's as good as everything else.  Two of our party also had a glass of wine with dinner.

The the whole meal was complete, the bill for all four of us, including the five glasses of wine, was under $90!  Is that amazing or what?  Oh, and the people drinking the red wine said it was a very nice one, definitely not out of a box.

Yes, even at some of the truly top-notch restaurants that offer a dining experience rather than just a meal, affordability is still the rule.

By the way, we were there four hours.  With the taxi ride, it was a five-hour evening.  The greatest part was that the company was so good I didn't even notice the time fly by.

As we left I snapped a few more photos of the beautiful night with the lights and fog.  I thought you might enjoy them.

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