The Set Lunch

cimg5728-320.jpgI am a huge fan of the set lunch menu. If ever we come across one on our travels, especially if it is of the French variety, I insist on making an effort to give it a go. Nine times out of ten, it is a delicious lunch for a great value, usually three courses with a drink and maybe even a coffee thrown in at the end. If we´re lucky, two of us can get a big meal for under $20. Plus, I have a theory that these lunches are even more delicious if there is a crowd of people in the restaurant and a queue at the door.

Twice in recent weeks we have come across dreamy set menus. The first was in the antique-y, bohemian barrio of San Telmo in Buenos Aires. We were actually looking for some other restaurant with a set menu and happened across a cafe named something like ¨Via Via¨. Anyway, it was crammed full of suits but we managed to snag one of the tables and ordered “dos, por favor.” This one was only two courses: roasted quarter of a chicken, salad and rice with home-made ice cream for dessert. Simple enough menu for a late lunch but it was hot and tasty and left us full enough that we didn´t need to eat again that day.

For the past two days, we have eaten lunch at the same cafe in Valparaiso, Le Filou de Montpellier. cimg5729-320.jpgYesterday, it was a crepe filled with bechemel and cheese to start, then roasted chicken with this fantastic mushroom reduction sauce and then profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce. It´s making my mouth water just to remember it. With wine, it was $22 dollars and there was a queue of people at the door waiting for our table. Hurrah! The meal today was a tarte of tomato, eggplant and camembert, slow-cooked beef in wine sauce with a gratin of potatoes and then Ile Flottant for dessert. No wine this time (thanks to a pisco-induced hangover today) but still, the best-value lunch menu I can remember having had. If we were staying here longer, I can almost guarantee that we´d be going back at least every other day. As it is, we´ll be going back tonight to Alegretto for – arguably – the best pizza I´ve ever had. We may not be eating classic comida Chilena, but I´m digging the food here.

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