El Garzón is a countryside restaurant sharing the premises with a hotel of just five rooms. The restaurant is located in the small town of Garzón with just a bit over 200 citizens. You can only reach the town by car on dirt roads from either Punta del Este or from Montevideo. Any way will take you on a small no signs adventure before you finally arrive. Forget about El Garzón if you are looking for wild parties and beach life which can be found at the nearby coast during summertime, no, this is a place of calm silence where the most action you will have is on a horseback between lunch and dinner.
Francis Mallmann is one of the owners and he is undoubtedly Argentina’s most famous chef, but he is also half Uruguayan on his mother’s side. He made the nearby town of José Ignacio famous when he established his former Los Negros restaurant, but that restaurant and the style of its surroundings was like an opposite to what El Garzón is and stands for. Mallmann has a good eye for business and saw a potential in the town of Garzón when he bought several parts of it and its surrounding lands.
Most people come to El Garzón just to dine and not to stay at the lodge-like hotel. The style is very inviting and it feels like coming home to someone’s farmhouse. The brand of Francis Mallmann helps the restaurant which menu is not for the locals considering the prices reminding of price tags usually found in Europe and the United States. Restaurateur and Chef Francis Mallmann will not be found in the kitchen, but Head Chef Norberto Piattoni will take care of your taste buds and serve you perfectly executed Mallmann crafted cuisine. Argentinean Piattoni worked for Mallmann at his 1884 restaurant in Argentina’s wine district of Mendoza before he moved to Uruguay.
Francis Mallmann is most famous for his live fire cooking and the cuisine at El Garzón offers no exception to that. As with all food cooked over open fire you will have a lightly burnt flavour when you eat it, but the food tastes very nice and you will soon find yourself ordering in some additional dishes. Head Chef Piattoni uses Mallmann’s infiernillo technique with cooking between two fires, when he makes you dishes like the roasted filet mignon of Aberdeen Angus with chimi churri or the smashed gigot of lamb with Dijon mustard and almond roasted potatoes.
El Garzón might not be for those who can not stay on the countryside, but for all the rest of us the location of the restaurant, its style and its cuisine is something special which we can recommend.
Written by Andy