Uchuva Lounge: Five Star Dining in Santa Elena

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Uchuva Lounge
Looks more like a house than a restaurant. Either way, you should definitely go inside.
Uchuva Lounge in Santa Elena
Uchuva Lounge in Santa Elena

Editor’s Note: As of 2014, the Uchuva Lounge is no longer operating regular business hours. Meals are still possible there, but it’s reservation only for groups of 6 or more. 

When I leave Medellin for the pueblos, I’ve learned to leave my expectations about high quality food behind as well. But, a long lunch at Uchuva Lounge in Santa Elena has proved me wrong.

The restaurant and lounge are a family affair. Silvia, a Colombian, owns the business, and two of her daughters work as chefs, putting out dishes on par with Medellin’s top restaurants.

The Uchuva Lounge’s exterior has the appearance of a traditional Colombian finca, or country home, but that’s where the similarity with other regional restaurants ends.

The first hint of a different experience is the sign hanging on one of the white columns outside the entrance. It declares you will not find sancocho, or other typical Colombia meals here.

The interior features a modern fireplace, and local art hanging on the walls
The interior features a modern fireplace, and local art hanging on the walls

Inside, the decor is modern, with local art hanging along the walls. I don’t know if they ever use it, but the central fireplace was unlike anything I’d ever seen.

A few stools line a counter, which looks out over  the rolling green hills of Santa Elena.

The Uchuva Lounge features a quality Wi-Fi connection, which ensures those who visit with a smartphone or laptop can get some work done if they choose.

The porch features simple, yet elegant table settings, with a beautiful view of the countryside
The porch features simple, yet elegant table settings, with a beautiful view of the countryside

It’s not the interior that wowed me, but rather the outdoor porch which features a half-dozen tables.

The settings are simple, yet elegant, and the chance to dine in such a tranquil environment makes the journey from Medellin worthwhile.

In fact, I immediately felt as though the Uchuva Lounge would make the perfect setting for a long, relaxing Sunday brunch.

The signature cocktail is made of beer, uchuva juice, honey, and cardamom
The signature cocktail is made of beer, uchuva juice, honey, and cardamom

Upon sitting down and meeting Silvia, I was excited to learn we’d be enjoying a tasting menu.

For those not familiar, a tasting menu consists of multiple courses (often anywhere from 3 to 12). This allows the diner to sample a wide variety of dishes in one sitting.

To begin, Silvia poured us uchuva cocktails, which was fitting given the restaurant takes its name from this little orange fruit.

Later, I would ask one of her daughters why they chose to celebrate the uchuva, of all fruits. She gave several reasons, including the fact that it’s grown locally, and is versatile to cook with.

First course: tomato soup with ginger and a green crostini
First course: tomato soup with ginger and a green crostini

The first course was a half shot of tomato soup with ginger, served alongside a crostini topped with green herbs and a layer of shredded cheese.

Second course: mushroom ceviche
Second course: mushroom ceviche

The second course was a real surprise, and a first for me.

Mushroom ceviche.

On their own, I don’t normally eat a lot of mushrooms, nor am I a big ceviche fan, but this combination worked well.

Mushrooms are one of the many vegetables grown locally in Santa Elena.

Third course: perfectly cooked salmon with rice and vegetable salad
Third course: perfectly cooked salmon with rice and vegetable salad

We had an option for the third course, either salmon or risotto.

I opted for the risotto (below), but also managed to grab a bite of the salmon, which was perfectly cooked, and presented in an herb cream sauce, with rice and mixed vegetables.

Third Course (other option): small portions of mushroom, green, and seafood risottos
Third Course (other option): small portions of mushroom, green, and seafood risottos

Risotto is not a light dish to order, so it was yet another surprise to be presented with not just one type, but a sample of three different risottos.

The classic mushroom risotto was good, but I liked the green risotto, which featured a variety of herbs, more.

The third type was a seafood risotto, which included some healthy chunks of octopus, and a piece of crispy fried fish skin as a garnish.

Fourth course: chicken with uchuva salsa, mashed potatoes, and salad
Fourth course: chicken with uchuva salsa, mashed potatoes, and salad

The fourth course was my favorite, both in terms of flavors, and presentation.

I loved the use of fresh flowers as a garnish on the mashed potatoes, and by the way, it’s not common to see mashed potatoes in Colombia!

You’ll almost always be given the option of boiled potatoes, or French Fries.

The uchuva once again presents itself, in this case, as the base for a salsa covering the skewered chicken.

Fifth course: maracuya
Fifth course: maracuya

Next, we were presented with a small bowl of sweet, sliced maracuya.

It was a simple way to end the lunch, only it wasn’t the end.

Sixth course (from left): uchuva panacotta, chocolate crepe with vanilla ice cream, and fruit panacotta with cardamom
Sixth course (from left): uchuva panacotta, chocolate crepe with vanilla ice cream, and fruit panacotta with cardamom

We were then presented with a trio of desserts, including uchuva panacotta, a chocolate crepe with ice cream, and a berry-delicious panacotta, garnished with edible purple flowers.

Upon tasting all three, I declared the fruit panacotta (far right) to be my favorite of the bunch.

Uchuva Lounge information
Uchuva Lounge information

When it comes to service, it was either Silvia or her daughters presenting the dishes. I don’t know if it’s always like that, but it made the experience that much more intimate.

And the cost is a real steal. Most entrees fall between 12,000 to 20,000 pesos ($6.50 to $12).

If you’re looking for a reason to escape Medellin, or celebrate a special occasion, the Uchuva Lounge in Santa Elena is easily accessible by bus or taxi (or via the metrocable to Parque Arvi).

45 minutes from now, you too could be sitting on the peaceful porch of Uchuva Lounge, enjoying a sophisticated blend of flavors offered up by Silvia and her daugthers.

Editor’s Note: As of 2014, the Uchuva Lounge is no longer operating regular business hours. Meals are still possible there, but it’s reservation only for groups of 6 or more. 

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My visit to Santa Elena was at the invitation of Paso Bueno to promote tourism in the region.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. You better believe that Tomasa and I are hitting up Uchuva Lounge! It looks like the perfect atmosphere for the two of us along with excellent food. Your description of Santa Elena and the cuisine has put me in a relaxing state of mind. As always David, keep those recommendations coming and I will tell them that you’ve sent us.

  2. Hola
    He mandado un correo electronico un reservacion para 4 personas manana el dia 15 de julio a las 12am.

    Espero que esta bien 🙂

    Muchas gracias
    Lisbeth Moseholm

    • Hi is Uchuva still open?And doing regular lunches? I hear its only for groups now.
      Also the details about where it is arent very helpful. and better directions for reaching it? i.e WHICH bus? where to get off? Or where to get off the metro cable? where to walk from there?
      Their website is unfortunately also vague about address/directions.
      Thanks