Ecuador

Theatrum (Quito, Ecuador)

Written by Mark McElroy

After a long day of touring, we’re snagging a quick Valentine’s Day dinner at Theatrum, the wine bar and restaurant located on the first floor of Quito’s National Theater (Teatro Nacional Sucre).

The atmosphere manages to be both dramatic (with soaring ceilings, flowing draperies, and bold colors) and somber (thanks to the generally unsmiling, very serious wait staff). The cuisine evokes the Big 80’s, with appetizers fried into oblivion:

theatrum-ecuador-appetizer-1

And the main dishes are smothered with rich, heavy sauces:

theatrum-quito-ecuador-saucy

Clyde’s beef dish (with au gratin potatoes — of course! — on the side) is haphazardly plated and smothered with sea salt:

theatrum-quito-food

There’s nothing sophisticated, subtle, or complex about the food here, as every dish seems to evoke one (and only one) flavor note. My appetizer tastes like grease. My chicken tastes like salt. My tortellini tastes like Elmer’s glue. My white chocolate desert tastes like white refined sugar. The best course is the salad course, which, despite a generous dollop of avocado-based sauce, tastes like shrimp:

theatrum_quito_ecuador_shrimp

We enjoy our time together here, but this is an expensive joint to be serving such mediocre food. We pay about $40.00 USD per plate with drinks … and we leave thinking, “For just ten bucks per head more, we could have eaten Zazu’s astounding tasting menu again!”

If you’re staying at Casa El Eden, Theatrum is a convenient, downhill, 3-minute walk away, and the restaurant will even send someone to escort you there and back. But unless you’re absolutely exhausted, you’ve got better options — including, perhaps, the gleaming new KFC at the end of the block.

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Mark McElroy

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