With the explosion of South American restaurants popping up in Williamsburg, it can be hard to truly stand out. But the recently opened Uruguayan eatery Tabaré on the South Side will have no problem gaining attention.
The interior of Tabaré is intimate and cozy, with concrete floors and soft lighting. The walls are covered in wood planks of various sizes, which the owners found and collected via Craigslist. The shelving above the tables in the restaurant is filled with vintage wine bottles and tea kettles. The tables are concrete, which is a nice contrast to the colorful handmade knitted banquettes. For the warmer months, there is a cute, small outdoor patio filled with tropical plants and tea lights.
Tabaré’s menu is varied with Mediterranean and Italian influences, with pasta dishes aplenty-I’m told it’s a staple of the Uruguayan diet. The owners said they wanted to serve what would be offered at a typical restaurant in Uruguay.
Tabaré uses as many organic and locally farmed foods as possible. The chef buys all the vegetables used in the food from the Union Square Farmers Market. The chicken is organic, and the beef is grass fed from Upstate NY.
Upon being seated, a small baguette from nearby Bakeri Brooklyn was served with a homemade olive oil and olive tapenade. For an appetizer, we ordered the homemade Empanadas Caseras ($7). We had one of each of the two choices offered: the first was filled with caramelized onions, gruyere & fontina cheese, while the second offered Spanish tuna & black olives. Both were amazing, and were small enough to not spoil your dinner. The empanadas were served with two sauces, a traditional chimmichurri and a spicier olive oil based sauce with peppers. Although we didn’t try it, the Ensalada Fresca with romaine, string beans, parsley, chives, & grapefruit salad ($9) sounded amazing.
There were many daily specials to choose from; including handmade potato gnocchi of the day ($14), and Raviolis Caseros (handmade ravioli with chicken and Roquefort cheese). We tried the Pescado Al Papel (fish of the day), tilapia baked in parchment paper served with string beans, carrots in a citrus herb sauce, grapefruit & baked potatoes; along with the Chivito Completo (traditional Uruguayan filet mignon steak sandwich) with bacon, mozzarella, onions, green olives, tomato, lettuce & a fried egg. The tilapia was extremely flavorful and tasty. There were more than enough vegetables, a nice change from the for sad carrots typically offered with fish at most places. The Chivito Completo was served with home fried potatoes, which tasted like homemade French fries. It offered an amazing array of flavors, complimented by the sweet brioche it was served on.
The desserts offer a nice compliment to the dinner. We had the Torta De Chocolate Negro (flourless dark chocolate cake) served with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It was so rich we couldn’t finish the whole piece, but is a great item to share. We also ordered the Manjar Del Cielo (dulce de leche flan). In contrast to most flan I’ve had in the past, this was thicker and less custard like. I actually preferred it.
Tabaré also serves brunch on the weekends. Many of the items offered are the same as during dinner, with the addition of several Brunch specific dishes such as Torreja (Uruguayan “French” toast) served with fruits and organic maple syrup ($7), Huevos horneados (baked eggs) with wild mushrooms ($10), and Revuelto gramajo (scrambled eggs) green peas, julienne fries & Serrano ham ($11).
Like visiting South America, Tabaré is a bit further south than most would venture out in Williamsburg, but it’s well worth the trip. Trust me.