Growing up, one of the coolest birthday parties I can remember was the time my parents took me and some friends to the Hard Rock Cafe.
I can’t remember if it was New York City or Washington, DC, but I do remember how fun it was to be surrounded by old guitars, stage outfits, and rock ‘n rock memorabilia.
Go to any Hard Rock, and it’s plastered across all the walls, and encased in frames and glass boxes.
The music is always good too, and the restaurant’s all feature stages for live performances.
Then there are the shirts, a marketing bonanza because you could show off all the exotic places you’d been by buying a Hard Rock tee with the city name on it.
In December 2010, the Hard Rock Cafe opened its doors in Medellin, the chain’s third location in Colombia (after Bogota and Cartagena).
As much as I loved the Hard Rock Cafe as a kid, I didn’t have to foot the bills back then, and I knew as an adult, they’re quite pricey, even by US standards.
Last August, I finally stopped by Medellin’s Hard Rock for lunch.
I’d passed the restaurant dozens and dozens of times, as it occupies a prominent position on Avenida Poblado, between La Strada and RIO SUR malls.
I was immediately greeted by outfits from two of Colombia’s biggest singers, Shakira from Barranquilla, and Juanes from Medellin.
Inside the first room was a stage, where Hoobastank performed at the grand opening. The staff were setting up balloons for paisa’s birthday, perhaps.
To the right is a bar, over which “Love All Serve All” is spelled out.
Memorabilia hangs everywhere, from one of Bon Jovi’s acoustic guitars to a red Fender Stratocaster signed by Maroon 5.
It was a random weekday, and the place was pretty empty, but that didn’t stop my waiter from greeting me energetically, and providing the level of service and attention you’d expect in the US.
I can’t remember the last time I ate at a Hard Rock Cafe.
I’d had a drink in the Cartagena one to escape the heat one night, and more recently stepped into the Hard Rock Cozumel in Mexico, which is reportedly the smallest in the world (though it was still quite spacious).
I immediately noticed two things, 1) I wanted to order everything on the menu, and 2) it was as expensive as I expected, so that wasn’t going to happen.
But seriously, it’s nice to know, as an American, I can find food like you can get at home, even if it does come at a premium.
The decision was tough. My mouth watered at the idea of hickory smoked barbecue ribs. I knew the burgers would be awesome too (33,000+ pesos, $17)
I opted for an old favorite, mac ‘n cheese (28,000 pesos, $15). The dish was so rich and filling, I took half of it home to finish another time.
Making two meals out of it is also a good way to justify the cost, and leave room for dessert.
Dessert was a difficult decision, but I settled on “bites” which are little sample size desserts served in shot glasses (6,000 pesos, $3 each).
One of these was enough, but I couldn’t help myself. They were both awesome, with a slight edge to the chocolate peanut butter pie.
Mmm, chocolate peanut butter pie.