As I mentioned in a previous post, the construction of the Sofitel in 1993 in the Old City of Cartagena began a process of urban renewal that has resulted in the lovely restaurants and hotels that you can find today. The Sofitel Santa Clara is located in the heart of the old city, in the interior of a former convent, a jewel of 17th century colonial architecture which is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Gabriel Garcia Marquez used this convent as the setting for one of his novels, “Of Love and Other Demons”. The renovation of the hotel led to the discovery of numerous archeological artifacts that are now on view at the hotel. 1621 lies in one of their mythical rooms, a former dining room for the Clare order nuns. The 1621 restaurant has several venues, both indoor and out, we chose to eat under the stars in the lush green central courtyard.
Tropical plants and crowded vines overrun the open courtyard while the central water well (a symbol of purification for the 16th-century nuns), trickles in the background. Upon arrival guests are treated to a compelling tour of the different historical elements – crypts, wells, confessionals, paintings, ecclesiastic doors, hidden windows and cannon balls recovered from pirate attacks. With all things French running though the corporate DNA of the luxury hotel chain, 1621 weaves cordon bleu techniques and gallic ingredients – foie gras, truffle oil, chateaubriand and other luxury staples – into an opulent menu with some very special seafood options. The new Executive Chef Daniel Padró has added a Catalan touch to the menu which includes complex taste combinations that harness Colombia's wealth of fresh fruits and fish.
We ordered a Sauvignon Blanc with a grapefruit finish from the waiter who produced a 2015 Aliwen. This is an inexpensive white wine from Chile blended from two different vineyards. The wine definitely did not have the grapefruit finish I was looking for and a visit from the sommelier produced a Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2015, a very nice New Zealand wine with a lemon finish. This is a bright dry wine and we decided to just stay with this choice although I was a little disappointed. I am not surprised, asking for a New Zealand style wine in Colombia was a mistake on my part.
The amuse bouche was bright and flavorful although a little simple.
The cold tomato soup with lobster and avocado was interesting. I expected a thin cold broth but instead I got a thick sauce much like the dinner in Miraflores, like a the gazpacho, in Lima. Perhaps this is a regional preference.
The seafood is of course the star of any restaurant in Cartagena. The crab salad with avocado and passionfruit dressing was delicious and plated beautifully.
We decided on lamb chops and I believe duck with mushroom sauce. My photographs of the menu were blurred. Both were delicious however.
The pastry chef served up a trolley of delicious treats, dessert was a nice conclusion to the main menu. So the 1621 restaurant is a really lovely and romantic restaurant both outdoors and inside. The food is solid, French inspired with a Caribbean theme. The service and wine list are impeccable, albeit with an impressive price tag. The restaurant is only open for dinner and reservations are a requirement, it is one of the best places in Cartagena. I personally prefer Carmen over creative choices but 1621 is still a solid choice. If you visit Cartagena, a visit to 1621, at least for dessert and the history is a must. I hope you enjoyed the post, please leave a comment.
Aliwen Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Reserva: http://winestyleonline.com/products/Undurraga-Aliwen-Sauvignon-Blanc-Reserva-2015.html
Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc: http://www.wine.com/v6/Jackson-Estate-Stich-Sauvignon-Blanc-2015/wine/155739/Detail.aspx?state=CA&warehouses=CA&cid=GoogleBase_CSE_155739_Beta&gclid=CjwKEAjwq8y8BRCstYTm8qeT9mwSJACZGjUkVpyBtpGHSUXJc4pqFlR2v_-r1PeqUPR39ekqXSVOqhoC2I7w_wcB