Los Troncos: Still the same great parrilla

09/Noviembre/2012 | 16:45

By Lance Brashear

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Quito is continually under construction and renovation, adapting to the city’s every-changing needs.  But along Shyris Avenue, Los Troncos Restaurant looks, feels, and tastes just like it did when it opened nearly two decades ago; And, the guy who runs it has no intention of changing anything for anyone because too many people like it just the way it is, especially him. 

“It is exactly like it was 18 years ago,” says owner and founder Hector Avero, as he sits in the corner just before lunch hour.  “This began with an idea…that with time began to mature.  I spend every day here.  It began as an adventure,” he says. 

Avero came to Quito from Argentina more than three decades ago.  He raised a family, including two sons who join him the kitchen one way or another.  Sergio works with his father running the traditional Argentina parrilla, or barbeque, while Martin, a newer generation chef, heads the San Telmo Steak House up the street – a 50/50 mix of Argentine tradition and contemporary culinary trends.

“But mine is meats,” says Hector, differentiating himself from his younger son.  “It is not a restaurant, it is a barbeque.  Mine is a barbeque, like the ones from my country.  There are a few pastas, a few other things, but 90 percent is meat.”

Avero understands meat better than most.  He imports his own beef, not just for his restaurant, but for all restaurants that offer Argentine cuts in Quito.

“It serves me to bring Argentine beef…the meat has international fame, the quality is superior,” he says.

He talks about the cuts that clients ask for.  “People like the bife chorizo (short loin), bife ancho (prime rib), and bife angosta (Porterhouse or T-bone).  We sell a lot of picaña (tip of rump roast).  There are menudencias (sweetbreads) that we bring from Argentina, which are called ‘mollejas’ that are incredibly popular…many people that know about this come exclusively here to eat.”

If you have been to Los Troncos and you’re thinking that this is nothing new, well that is exactly the point for Avero. 

Still popular is the “pecho de paloma,” an entire tenderloin meal for four persons, the “costillar de cerdo a lo gaucho,” or pork ribs served Argentine style with a slightly sweet sauce, and the “matambre de cerdo,” a roll of pork served with vegetables.  Then, for the person who wants it all, they have the tasting menu with every imported cut served in small portions.

Avero’s cuts are 350-400 grams each and he maintains two menus: Argentine beef and Uruguay beef.

Hector’s Specials

Avero says he has developed something that goes beyond a barbeque restaurant.  “We have a personal dedication [to clients],” he says.  “There are many clients that have stopped being clients. They are friends.”  He says this is what happens over time in a place that does not change.

For those friends, Hector decided years ago to do something special.  “We work a lot with specials that are not on the menu.  I cook certain things and my clients come and eat what I cook.  I do this two times a week.”

His specials are endless and include things like “brocheta de langostinos,” or skewered prawns, “pollo al horno” or baked chicken, Argentine style.    He makes risottos, which he says are always unique.  “You will not find them easily in other restaurants.”  He prepares a “polenta” with ossobuco, or veal shanks, a recipe derived no doubt from his Italian grandparents, while the “cochinillo crocante,” or crunchy suckling pig, comes from his other grandparents – those from Spain.

The Spanish and Italian influences do not belong solely to Avero; Argentine cooking is a mix of both.  A great example is Los Tronco’s classic starter: provoleta, a traditional, grilled provolone cheese that is crunchy on the outside but remains soft on the inside.  For dessert: a classic tiramisu with mascarpone.  And in between, all the great cuts of beef and in-house pastas – raviolis, pansottis, and capeletinis.

“Everything that is produced for this restaurant is made here…absolutely everything,” from the sausages, to the ice cream.  They have a production facility that services both Los Troncos and San Telmo.

But when talking to Avero it seems we always come back to the specials, particularly his most well-known, “puchero,” an Argentine adaptation of the Spanish “cocido,” a stew with vegetables and meat boiled in the same pot. 

“It is a dish that is generally eaten when it is very cold.  You put vegetables and certain types of meat.  You put pork, beef, and a specific sausage – the colored, spicy chorizos,” says Avero.  And he uses the broth to serve as a soup with angel hair pasta beforehand. 

Los Troncos is not just a place for Avero and his friends; it is frequented by foreigners as well.  Los Troncos is known and recommended in local tourism circles.  More than 30 percent of his clients are visitors. 

But Avero is clear that he does not change anything for anyone, visitor or regular client. “I work according to my mood.  On the weekend I say I am going to cook a certain thing and I know where I can get it.”

His attitude flows from his heart as much as his stomach.  “All of my life I have had a fondness for the kitchen.  My hobby was cooking.  I cooked for me, for my friends…one day I decided I was going to live from this.” 

But as the city changes around him and he becomes sandwiched between the high rise buildings behind and the ever-expanding avenue in front, Avero seems more content than ever.  He’s not leaving.  He says there is no place to go.  Besides, “they know me for this place…by changing you lose all that is classical.”

Los Troncos is located at 1280 Los Shyris.  They are open every day of the week from 12-11pm except on Sundays, the schedule is 12-6pm.  Prices average $25 per person.  For reservations or to check the specials for the week, call 225-0875 or visit the website at www.restaurantelostroncos.com.ec



Ciudad Quito

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