I don’t gush. But when you’re a foodie, and you live in Ecuador, and you find a restaurant this excellent – well, gush is the least I can offer.
Renaldo at The Sea Garden House in Olón recommended South Indian to us, I think, the moment we set foot on his property. We’d just arrived from Guayaquil, after flying to the mainland from the Galapagos islands. It was late and we were famished.
He eats there at least twice a week, or so he says. And we couldn’t beat the location: literally, thirty metres from our much-loved hostel. So off we went. Renaldo checked in on us an hour later, to be sure we’d followed his advice.
The restaurant décor isn’t anything special, but the service is impeccable, friendly, and in English. The beer selection isn’t much either, but it’s cold. And the television is tuned exclusively to Bollywood videos, which I find especially charming.
The table next to us, however, was not similarly charmed. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was piled high with Millennial man buns, from somewhere in Europe. A few of them openly and loudly ridiculed the entertainment. Our host, a congenial gentleman by the name of Ravi, smiled along with them, the pretentious prats, but it was obvious he had taken offense. Hell, I was offended and I don’t speak Tamil.
Regardless, my story is about the food. So how best to describe it?
In Ottawa, where Chantal and I still own a condo, about two kilometres south of us on Saint Laurent Boulevard is Coconut Lagoon, by award-winning chef and author Joe Thottungal. Until 30 November, 2019 I had thought Coconut Lagoon offered the finest South Indian cuisine I was ever to enjoy. I will place Olón’s modest South Indian alongside Thottungal’s best work. It is that good, and easily one of the best restaurants in Ecuador.
Starters, mains, bread, rice, dessert – all at Ravi’s suggestion – plus drinks, for four people: sixty bucks, including tip. We were fit to explode by the time we waddled out onto the malecon.
Our adopted country does what it can. But we foodies are still shy our reliably excellent haunts. South Indian is a welcome addition to the handful of restaurants I would gladly patronize, again and again.