We were recently four for dinner at Contraluz.
The restaurant is L-shaped, open to the lobby and the bar of the relatively new Alvear Art Hotel. Despite the openness, however, the restaurant feels private; congratulations to the designer, as this is not easy to pull off, I'm sure. The decor is understated, inviting, and elegant, and creates a perfect ambiance for dining. The noise level, unlike so many modern restaurants, is low, so conversation is easy. All-in-all, an A-plus for the space.
The service was on the whole excellent. A warm greeting, a ready wait-staff, everyone available yet unobtrusive, with quick and helpful answers to any questions about the menu, wine or food. They were a little too enthusiastic for my taste about describing the contents of each dish as it was presented, but that seems to be a trend these days so most people must like it.
We were told the menu had just changed a day or so before our dinner, and I gather the menu changes frequently. The menu itself is limited, with only three or four appetizers and one main dish each of beef, lamb, seafood, fowl and pasta, if I recall correctly. Personally, I think it's a great idea to limit the menu and change it often, as it makes the choices easier for the diners, allows the chef to concentrate on each dish, and ensures the wait staff is familiar with each dish and thus better able to answer questions (or describe it as it is presented!). Someone who chooses to dine at Contraluz often will still get a variety of choices over time.
The food itself was imaginative and the presentations were lovely. Everyone found his or her dish interesting and tasty. The one slight question mark was that everything seemed to be cooked just a bit past what was requested. That's something that can be avoided with clearer instructions to the waiter at the time of ordering, so it's not a knock on the food.
Overall, this is an excellent restaurant. It would be perfect for a business lunch or dinner (tables are spaced so as to ensure privacy of conversations), but also would serve well for friends or spouses on special occasions. Certainly, anyone staying in the Alvear Art Hotel should eat in this restaurant. It's not inexpensive, but the value is there.
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