Antigua, GT: Casa Escobar: A steakhouse--and a very good one
This restaurant is near my school and my apartment so I’d passed it often. I’d never stopped in before because the waiters wear kitchy uniforms that screamed “tourist” to me and are often at the front door trying to lure you in in a way that seemed a tad too desperate. But after hearing some good reports from locals, and during one of my steak cravings, I decided to give it a try.
The main courses are pretty much all beef and only beef, although there’s a token grilled chicken and a breaded, grilled shrimp. And seemingly popular among the locals is a mixed grill of steak, sausages, and ribs that can be ordered for two or for a large group, as can many of the steaks. They advertise that all their meat is imported and aged before being grilled over oak coals. Also on the menu are appetizers and salads, but I was there for the steak so I got right to it.
I asked the maitre d’ (excellent English) what was the best steak on the menu and he said the 14-ounce rib-eye. I decided to go with it, even though I knew I’d be taking at least half of it home with me. I was given a choice of potato or salad as a side and went with the salad. After ordering, I was brought a hot mug of very tasty, well-seasoned broth. If it came from a can or cube, which I suspect it probably did, it was very nicely doctored.
The steak, which I ordered medium-rare (in a country where “medium” is considered as rare as anyone could possibly want any meat cooked) was served on a sizzling metal grill with unmentioned-on-the menu but terrific grilled onions on the side. The waiter cut the steak in half and put it on my plate which contained a simple salad of greens and sliced tomatoes. The salad was not dressed, but served with cruets of oil and vinegar--a touch I appreciated since so many salads are heavily overdressed. The meat was a little less rare than I would have liked, but I’m used to that here. Although these are not the big, thick, heavily-marbled and dry-aged prime steaks you’d get at a top steakhouse back in the States, it was a very tender, nicely marbled, well prepared and tasty piece of meat. My craving was happily sated.
The wine selection, at least in half bottles, is limited, but I had a perfectly decent Trapiche malbec. They advertise live music on Friday and Saturday nights, although while I was there on a Saturday night there were only pop and soft-rock videos playing a little too loudly (at least before the restaurant began to fill up later in the evening) on a huge TV screen above the bar. Service was excellent throughout. I was very pleased that I overcame my initial reluctance and gave it a try.