Native's Pick! (?)
The first bite was a revelation, the second an infatuation, and by the third, an obsession. That’s the kind of devotion that Uruguyan restaurant Tabare will inspire. Meandering from the subway, we almost thought we had gotten lost. Located on an unassuming block in South Williamsburg, Tabare is truly a hidden gem, serving authentic Uruguayan fare with a classical twist, and a godsend for any and all foodies.
Walking in, we were struck by both the waft of truffle oil and the beautifully rustic interior. Empty wine bottles and Latin American decorations adorned the stripped wooden walls, lit by dim golden hues. A cadence of Spanish could be heard from Tabare’s Uruguayan patrons as young, cool couples and friends filled the restaurant – Tabrare is perfect for anyone looking to impress a special someone. Bruno, the bartender and one of the owners, had lived in Uruguay for a decade and explained that Uruguayan food has heavy Italian and Spanish influences. In other words, the gnocchi and chorizo on the menu were as authentic as the empanadas.
Our appetizers arrived sizzling and aromatic. The grilled octopus casserole garnished with lima beans, paprika, lemon, and aioli is a Uruguayan staple, and definitely deserves its popularity. The perfect marriage of tender and crunchy, the octopus had the right amount of bite, and most importantly, we could taste the heat of the grill. The red paprika and lemon combination packed a flavorful, spice-filled punch, mediated by the lima beans. The empanadas, made with caramelized onions, had a flaky, pastry-like outside, and cheese dripped off our forks at the first bite.
The chivito completo, or as Bruno described it, “the Uruguayan hamburger,” was our first entrée. Don’t be fooled, though, it’s definitely more than a beef patty and some lettuce. Stuffed inside the chivito completo were filet mignon steak, bacon, mozzarella, onions, green olives, lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg. Although the combination sounded overwhelming, one bite dispelled any fears we had about a confused sandwich. A distinct garlic mayo pulled the dish together and along with the olives, distinguished it from the stereotypical carnivorous American sub. The homemade ravioli of the day was made with shitake mushrooms and mascarpone in black truffle oil and pecorino. With a cheesy outside, the ravioli delivered a mouthful of umami. Earthy, creamy, then cheesy, the dish contained delicious layer after layer of taste — a real highlight in the parade of memorable dishes.
Though we were sad to see our meal end, we were delighted by the dulce de leche flan. Unlike processed caramel, we could taste the wonderfully burnt carmelization of the sugar glaze. With its thick, creamy texture, it was reminiscent of crème brulee, yet still left a refreshingly light flavor. Needless to say, we fought for every bite. Tabare deserves every accolade; each dish was filled to the brim with flavor – whether cheesy, creamy, spicy, crunchy, or all at once. Go. Make the trip. Your taste buds will thank you.
Tabare. 221 South 1st Street (between Driggs and Roebling). (347)335-0187 Dinner: Sun-Thu 5-11PM; Fr-Sat: 5PM-12AM. Brunch: Sat-Sun 12-5PM. G/L to Lorimer St-Metropolitan Ave.