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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Casa SaltShaker

Ever since our wedding at the Black Horse Inn Bed and Breakfast, we have had a special interest in quaint restaurants and small hotels that offer a little more personality than the larger more corporate places. In the same vein, I have recently discovered the notion of a "private" or "underground" restaurant, which is something that I have apparently in the dark about for quite some time now. For those who came late to the party like me, an underground restaurant is one that is operated out of a private home, kind of like a dinner party for randoms. Although these restaurants may be run in all sorts of large cities, rumor has it that they are more popular in international cities due to the more lenient laws regarding food service, etc. The whole notion seemed a little strange to me, but so did staying in someone's home and having breakfast with a bunch of strangers in the morning (a.k.a - Bed & Breakfast), so I figured it was worth a try - we just needed to find the right place.

At the recommendation of my friend Lauren, I started following this great food and restaurant review blog called The SaltShaker. Dave, the blog's writer, has been to a significant portion of Buenos Aires restaurants and has great, detailed reviews of the food, service and overall experience complete with photos of many of the dishes. Jon and I typically confer with the SaltShaker restaurant review page in conjunction with the popular Buenos Aires restaurant review site Guia Oleo before heading out to a new restaurant, just to be sure we know what we're getting into, and most times the reviews are right on the money. After relying on The SaltShaker for our out to eat locations for 6 months, we finally decided to try their private restaurant, Casa SaltShaker, while my brother was in town visiting.

Casa SaltShaker holds a private dinner party each Friday and Saturday night and posts their upcoming menu online a few weeks in advance. I didn't bring a camera to photo document our meal, but luckily Dan has posted a full rendition of our menu online here. The Casa SaltShaker has seating room for 12 at two tables in their cozy dining room. The night we went was at capacity, so we started off with a welcome cocktail while we waited for everyone to arrive. Our group had people from New Zealand, Argentina and the US (us and some other guests) and the conversation was flowing from the start. The 5-course tasting menu is $130 pesos (US$33.00) or you can opt for the tasting menu and wine flight combo for an additional $60 pesos (US$15.00). The food was excellent, the wine was good and the overall experience was more than we had hoped for. I have to say that the wild card in this setup is the other attendees. It would have been an exceptionally long dinner if the other guests had been difficult to hold a conversation with, like an awkward family dinner that lasts 3+ hours. Lucky for us, we had lots of nice folks around the table(s) with us and I was even able to practice a bit of Spanish with the three extremely patient Argentine women in attendance. We will certainly be back to Casa SaltShaker and recommend it for an interesting twist on a normal night out.

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