Sin PretensionesGourmet Uruguay comfort food
Local dishes–Montevideo Uruguay food–just like Mamá made, served exquisitely in a vintage furniture store in the Old City. Gourmet chivitos, gnocchis on the 29th of the month & vegan icecream. Fresh local produce, great prices, and an attention to detail that is unusual in laid-back Montevideo
Sin Pretensiones, is a vintage furniture and gift store and gourmet restaurant in Montevideo’s Old City. Chef Guillermina Bauer who’s still in her twenties serves up delicious elegantly-served comfort food made with Uruguay’s freshest ingredients. All at a great price.
Sin Pretensiones opens all day for late breakfast, lunch and early (very by Uruguayan standards) dinner.
Though Guillermina is the public face of Sin Pretensiones, it’s very much a family concern. Over the years, the family has run a hotel in one of Argentina’s exclusive Patagonian ski resorts, a restaurant in glitzy Punta del Este and a boutique estancia, and it shows.
Ideal for an early 5-6pm dinner
Sin Pretensiones is not open in the evenings. However, they serve the lunchtime menu until closing. This is REALLY unusual in Uruguay where most kitchens close before 4pm and reopen at 8.
So if you are one of those travellers who just cannot get into the Latin American thang of dinner starts at 10pm, as long as you are fine with being out the door by 6.30pm , then Sin Pretensiones is going to be your saviour.
Prices are for the daytime business crowd and very reasonable. Main courses start around 300 pesos and there’s no cover charge.
Opening hours and all that stuff
Sarandí 366, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo, Uruguay
Monday through Friday 9.30am-6.30pm.
They are closed in the evenings, though they will open for private functions.
To see the daily specials visit the Sin Pretensiones Facebook page at opening time. You’ll see photos of the main dish and dessert of the day, taken by Guillermina’s brother, Gaston.
Photos: Gastón at Sin Pretensiones
What to ask for at Sin Pretensiones
This is not a parrilla, so go elsewhere for huge mounds of meat.
The food is what I’d call rustic-chic. Here you’ll get what the locals might prepare at home, so think roasts, pizza, pastas and rice, quiches (called tartas) and stews (guisos) but taken to a whole other culinary level.
Their pizzas are a classic. The pizza crusts are very thin and crunchy topped with different topping like smoked salmon, proscuitto – known as jamon crudo in Spanish – and rocket (rúcula).
Then every day there are different entrees and desserts.
Some Thursdays there’s risotto. Last week as I wrote it was a broccoli risotto with a Camembert cream sauce (Uruguay produces some good cheeses if you know where to go). The week before the risotto featured pomegranate and Iberian ham.
Signature meat and fish dishes are lomo Zabala – a pork loin – and sturgeon (esturión). It’s very unusual to see sturgeon on a menu here though Uruguay is the only Southern Hemisphere country to produce high-quality caviar.
I recommend putting yourself in their hands and going with what they recommend that day. You won’t be disappointed.
Vegans and vegetarians
Same with vegans and vegetarians. You won’t find items specifically for vegans, diabetics or celiacs on the menu.
But make your dietary need known and Guillermina will rustle up something just for you.
Oh, and they’ve just started stocking vegan icecream. Look out for a brand called Dolly.
29th of the month?
What will many Uruguayans and Argentinians be sitting down to eat? You can guarantee that a huge percentage will be scarfing down a plate of Italian gnocchis, or ñoquis as they are referred to in Spanish.
Find out why and after you do, go and have a plate at Sin Pretensiones.
Fresh juices and craft beer
I was surprised to find that Sin Pretensiones’ ultra popular home-made lemonade is offered unsweetened. This in Uruguay, where children are unashamedly raised on sugary snacks and drinks.
Made of lemon juice, grated peel, grated ginger and crushed fresh mint, a carafe for two appears at your table and you can ask for it with or without sugar. Try it without sugar first. You’ll become a convert.
Beside the lemonade, Sin Pretensiones makes a number of freshly-made juices with no colourings or additives including orange, apple, beetroot and bitter green leaves (verdes).
The craft beers available are all bottled locally.
Great prices and no cover charge
For the quality and presentation of the food, prices are really very reasonable. Main dishes cost around 10 USD and desserts around 5 USD. You can order a classic tarta with salad from 230 pesos, which is about 8 USD. All dishes come with home-made bread and a dip.
In addition, Sin Pretensiones has made it their policy not to charge the “cubierto” or cover charge so characteristic of Uruguayan establishments.
Why a restaurant and a vintage furniture store?
I was curious about the idea of combining the two types of businesses – a gourmet restaurant where the art-deco oak table you’re sitting at is up for sale.
Guillermina told me, “We wanted to create an environment where people feel like they are eating at our home. Or at their grandparents’.”
Sin Pretensiones translates as “unpretentious”. In reality with its rustic furniture, dried flowers and arty food presentation, Sin Pretensiones definitely does have pretensions. But of the good kind.
Because if serving quality food at a great price in a cosy setting is pretentious, then I’m all in.