Most great children’s adventures begin with a treasure map. We received ours in an email detailing the exact mile marker and unmarked turnoff from Route 10 to catch a small boat to the secret beach bar called La Caracola. Created by the same team of chefs of the famous La Huella; also known as the “Best Beach Bar on the Planet,” comes its sister restaurant; a small open air Uruguayan restaurant and beach club on a private sand bar open only for 1 month each year.
It’s January, and the heat of summer is still in full effect. The excitement of our group is electric and childlike as we pull off the road and park our car among the sand dunes then practically skip to the doc to meet the boat. Picturesque, remote, and luxurious; a waitress takes us to our shaded camp in the sand complete with a changing tent, bamboo rugs, coffee table and beach chairs. We enjoy minted lemonade, perfectly concocted cocktails, passed appetizers of shrimp, bacon wrapped scallops, octopus, and cilantro ginger ceviche all afternoon. Any drink requested can be made and brought to you surfside. We order, more lemonade, chilled beer, and pitchers of sangria. Hours pass. The waves crash loudly on the dunes, our bucket of beer is replenished a 3rd time and a few games of Frisbee, and cards start up as we all melt into relaxation.
5pm rolls around and we all make our way to the main house for a late open air lunch. Our long untreated wood table can seat all 12 of us on the porch which features another gorgeous ocean view. Red and White wine is brought to the table and we are invited in to the buffet. Never have I seen or smelled such a spread. Roasting in a large fireplace, are racks of lamb, steak and seafood. Another long table features smoked root vegetables, summer squash with garlic butter, spinach, leafy salads, fingerling potatoes and olive tapenade. A large white fish roasted over a wood fire in a cast iron box and wrapped in a bed of rock salt is the house favorite. Both beautiful and mouth watering, this fish is the best tasting entre I have ever had in South America.
The table is very quiet as we eat. We can hardly finish our plate of seconds before dessert is brought to the table and our wine glasses are refilled. A kings feast.
Wine glass in hand and summer hat flapping in the breeze, a few of us go for a stroll down the beach and dip our toes in the sea. The water is chilly but we are full and happy. A dessert buffet with still more baked treats is discovered an hour later. Any question on whether we got our money’s worth in food, drink and atmosphere has long been squashed. We watch the orange sun set against the outline of La Caracola. Translated from spanish its name means “the snail” and i can see why. Time seems to slow here, and every moment, ingredient, flavor and sea breeze is fused into the taste, and overall experience of La Caracola. Dusk turns to nightfall, we are blanketed by stars and a quiet boat ride back to the car is proof that we all shared something very special.