What you should know
The food is what I’d call rustic-chic. Here you’ll get what the locals might prepare at home, so think roasts, pizza, pastas and rice, quiches (called tartas) and stews (guisos) but taken to a whole other culinary level.
Their pizzas are a classic. The pizza crusts are very thin and crunchy topped with different topping like smoked salmon, proscuitto – known as jamon crudo in Spanish – and rocket (rúcula).
Vegans and vegetarians You won’t find items specifically for vegans, diabetics or celiacs on the menu. But make your dietary need known and Guillermina will rustle up something just for you. Oh, and they’ve just started stocking vegan icecream. Look out for a brand called Dolly.
Gnocchis every 29th of the month What will many Uruguayans and Argentinians be sitting down to eat? You can guarantee that a huge percentage will be scarfing down a plate of Italian gnocchis, or ñoquis as they are referred to in Spanish. Find out why and after you do, go and have a plate at Sin Pretensiones.
Fresh juices and craft beer
I was surprised to find that Sin Pretensiones’ ultra popular home-made lemonade is offered unsweetened. This in Uruguay, where children are unashamedly raised on sugary snacks and drinks.
Made of lemon juice, grated peel, grated ginger and crushed fresh mint, a carafe for two appears at your table and you can ask for it with or without sugar. Try it without sugar first. You’ll become a convert.
Beside the lemonade, Sin Pretensiones makes a number of freshly-made juices with no colourings or additives including orange, apple, beetroot and bitter green leaves (verdes).
The craft beers available are all bottled locally.
Great prices and no cover charge
For the quality and presentation of the food, prices are really very reasonable. Main dishes cost around 10 USD and desserts around 5 USD. You can order a classic tarta with salad from 230 pesos, which is about 8 USD. All dishes come with home-made bread and a dip.
In addition, Sin Pretensiones has made it their policy not to charge the “cubierto” or cover charge so characteristic of Uruguayan establishments.
Ideal for travellers who need an early dinner
Sin Pretensiones is not open in the evenings. However, they serve the lunchtime menu until closing. This is REALLY unusual in Uruguay where most kitchens close before 4pm and reopen at 8.
So if you are one of those travellers who just cannot get into the Latin American thang of dinner starts at 10pm, as long as you are fine with being out the door by 6.30pm (7pm in the Uruguay summer), then Sin Pretensiones is going to be your saviour.
Why a restaurant and a vintage furniture store?
I was curious about the idea of combining the two types of businesses – a gourmet restaurant where the art-deco oak table you’re sitting at is up for sale. Guillermina told me, “We wanted to create an environment where people fee like they are eating at our home. Or at their grandparents’.” Sin Pretensiones translates as “unpretentious”. In reality with its rustic furniture, dried flowers and arty food presentation, Sin Pretensiones definitely does have pretensions. But of the good kind. Because if serving quality food at a great price in a cosy setting is pretentious, then I’m all in.
Photos: Gastón at Sin Pretensiones