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Yesterday, Lácar Hotel; Today, Young Cuisine

 Estimated reading time: 2 min. Texts Mónica Pons   Photos Eduardo Epifanio
Doña Quela Restaurant - San Martín de los Andes

A typical restaurant in San Martín where customers will feel at ease, receive very good assistance and enjoy flavors managed through carefully followed family recipes.

San Martín Avenue is the main artery in the City of San Martín de los Andes and, though hard to believe, it used to be made of dirt many years ago. Few façades remain from that mountain village we yearn for so much. That of the old Lácar Hotel is one of them.

Opposite Sarmiento Square, its original wooden structure painted light blue, the small windows on the second floor and its gable roof display the characteristic style from a period in which summer tourism would appear shyly in the streets of the village.

The atmosphere of the venue and the tables set with careful details caught our attention as soon as we crossed the threshold. We were welcomed by a spacious room ending in a grand window overlooking the garden, as we could hear our own steps on the ancient wooden floor made with raulí boards.

We opened the menu to find a wide range of delicious dishes that got our palate ready for a relaxed lunch. Before making up our minds what to choose as a main course, we asked for advice. I let myself be seduced by homemade pasta.
Doña Quela Restaurant - San Martín de los Andes
As we waited for our lunch, we started to discover that ample dining-room with original ceilings and columns and olden relics from the ancient Lácar Hotel. Some of them were at sight high in the room, others in the entrance corridor.

The homemade pasta arrived, just like we had been announced: big ravioli made with spinach. Yes, they were intensely green, shiny, filled with pumpkin and accompanied by pine mushroom sauce. A little bit of rosemary and fine bread fried in butter decorated the dish.

Without neglecting the conversation at our table, out of the corner of our eye, we saw some exquisite dishes passing us by. Wild boar goulash, lamb ragout and trout cooked in the wok were reaching their destination with a neat presentation and agility by the chef. Pasta is the star of the restaurant.

A Melody for the Soul

A very appropriate kind of music wrapped up the dining-room and let us talk comfortably preventing us from hearing what was happening at the table next to us. It was almost magical to perceive the sound of the piano played with the warmth proposed by the environment. Our senses felt grateful.

Before dessert, we watched some historical details with a glow of their own. We could see part of the old dishware, suitcases and chests, as well as some documents handwritten with period ink and quill pens. In the old photographs, not many differences may be observed on the façade in comparison to what is seen today.
Doña Quela Restaurant - San Martín de los Andes
It is surprising to find young people running Doña Quela. We had a nice chat with them. Hugo González and Mariana Harris apply the concept of neat cuisine both in their presentations and in the constant innovations. "We are almost maniacs!", they themselves assure.

Chef Leandro Miller contributed too: “Each customer is a challenge for the three of us. We have to seduce with the sight and the flavor of the dish; finding the balance that may captivate our customer’s palate. This is a constant topic in our daily talks to improve our offer”.

It has been a while since customers have learned to choose wine according to the dish chosen. At Doña Quela, the wine list is extensive and there are options for all tastes. It is also possible to ask for assistance to taste a special blend for each special dish.

Lunch at Doña Quela meant opening a door into that dining-room with history, the stage of many of the typical meetings that took place in this town during the twentieth century. As we left the restaurant, we knew that we still had to taste many of the expressions of its avant-garde cuisine. We would go back soon and we would take the opportunity of asking why it has been given that name.
Doña Quela Restaurant - San Martín de los Andes
Useful Data
Doña Quela
Av. San Martín 1017 (8370) San Martín de los Andes - Neuquén - Argentina
Tel: +54 2972 42-0670  
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Doña Quela, History and Cuisine
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