Varenna, Lake Como: Eremo Gaudio

by gigi on February 13, 2009

Jenkins and I were feeling particularly lazy one evening and did not want to make the 10 minute walk down the hill into town for dinner. It had rained quite heavily earlier that day, and we were also a bit afraid of getting caught in a torrential downpour. :) As a result, we made the decision to just eat dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was still chilly that day so the outside terrace was not open for dinner but here was the view from the restaurant:

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As usual, we started with our bottle of fizzy water. The tap water in most of the places we’ve been to in Europe is safe to drink as is, but we specifically read in several guide books that the Lake Como tap water is not good for drinking.

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The bread we were served wasn’t very good but the packaged items weren’t bad (breadsticks in pink and mini toasts in yellow).

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Unfortunately, as we browsed through the menu, we discovered that there wasn’t a restaurant-sized kitchen in the hotel and most menu items had been pre-made earlier and was simply reheated for dinner. Although I wish I had known this before I sat down, I did appreciate that the fact certain items were pre-made was clearly stated on the menu.

I looked through the menu for something that wasn’t pre-made and decided to start by sharing a charcuterie platter with Jenkins. I discovered this during my last trip to Europe, where a friend living in Paris introduced me to the wonders of saucissons, cured meats, and the like. :) Ever since then, I always order the charcuterie platter a few times throughout our trips to Europe.

The charcuterie platter contained a variety of Italian cheeses, prosciutto, cured beef, panchetta, and saucissons (start at the cheese and go clockwise). I enjoyed all the items on my platter quite thoroughly. I normally eat this with the bread that’s provided. Although the charcuterie went very well with the breadsticks and toasts, I wish the fresh bread had been fresher and more tasty. :)

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I had the roast duck with potatoes and vegetables. Even though it was pre-made, it was surprisingly tasty and had a nice crispy sin that wasn’t too oily. The vegetables were finely chopped and slowly cooked in a tomato sauce and actually seemed like an Italian version of ratatouille. The potatoes weren’t too interesting in and of themselves but were nice and crispy without being greasy.

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Jenkins had the roasted pork ribs with the same sides as my dish. The ribs were surprisingly moist and tender. They were seasoned nicely and had the rustic taste of a home-cooked meal.

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Given the circumstances around the hotel restaurant, we enjoyed our meal quite a bit. Oddly enough, there were quite a few local Italian patrons in the restaurant. Jenkins and I wondered if they knew about the pre-made dishes and still decided to go to the restaurant or if it was a surprise to them too. :) Even though our meal was better than expected, we probably would have gone to a restaurant in town where the dishes weren’t pre-made and just re-heated.

Details:
Via Roma n° 11 – 23829 Varenna Lago di Como, Rome

Summary:
Food: [rating:2.5] although the charcuterie itself rated [rating:3.5]
Service: [rating:2.5]
Price: $$

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