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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sabores del Plata: Who is drowning and why?

What does it mean?

Squishy tongue in vinegar
A few Fridays ago, I convinced my friends to dine at Sabores del Plata, a Norcross restaurant serving the meat-obsessed cuisine of Uruguay and Argentina. What could please the tame of taste more than big chunks of cow?

Sigh. I didn't know this was a nose-to-tail kinda place and the boys immediately began combing through the menu to avoid blood sausage, intestines, and sweet breads. In all honestly, I'm not a scrap-meat aficionado myself, but I ordered a (huge) plate of sliced cow tongue in a vinegary sauce with "Russian salad" for a starter.

I love tongue, but I did not like this oily, squishy version that tasted mainly of the vinegar. I pushed my plate forward, inviting tastes. All but one declined. I was embarrassed when our terrific server came around and fetched the barely half-eaten dish.

The restaurant's name refers to the (flavors of the) Plata River estuary between Uruguay and Argentina. Both countries have large populations of Italian descent, so a good bit of pasta and pizza figures on the menu here. Only one pasta dish - a super-rich version of ravioli with bolognese sauce - made it to our table. Two friends shared a gigantic dish of grilled meats and cheese served over french fries. My entree was exceedingly fatty, exceedingly chewy short ribs served with a chimichurri sauce.

Smothered and covered Uruguay-style
The weirdest part of our meal was the restaurant's walls, where two huge murals face one another. One of them is caricatures of celebrities from Uruguay. The other's center appears to be five rocks rising from a body of water, presumably the Plata.

I asked the server what the rocks were about. She explained that they were actually fingers of someone reaching into the air while apparently drowning.

"But why?" I asked.

She shrugged.

Sabores del Plata receives rave reviews nearly everywhere. I don't share those opinions, and my friends flat-out disliked it. Maybe I'll return when I'm craving sweetbreads.

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