CLMDO delivers on rustic elegance

CLMDO is the kind of restaurant you go to get excited about food. Whether you are a local or a tourist, you’ll be happy to stand in line for how long it takes to get a table at this unpretentious revamped colmado - or a type of general store that used to be very common on the island for years – now turned rustic eatery in the northwestern town of Isabela.

CLMDO’s building is actually 80 years old, located on Calle Manuel Colchado Juarbe, slightly hidden behind the town square. It takes no reservations, but is BYOB, which is super nice because The Wine Boutique is just a couple of blocks away.

Stars finally aligned and our traveling schedule allowed us to eat there. What was on the menu wasn’t very important to be honest. After following the owner and chef Wilson Davalos on Instagram for so long, we knew his stuff was legit. This is the kind of chef who takes the time to carefully char his grapes for a salad, even with a full house. Or sprinkle pomegranate seeds to make sure his creamy risotto had a pop of color and sweetness.

At CLMDO, every bite is consciously constructed. The menu changes depending on creativity and what’s available. It’s written with a black marker on a roll of brown paper on the wall. And you have to eat quickly, because they can sell out of everything, fast. 

We started with the veggie tacos, made with a mix of garbanzos, veggies and spices, and topped with fresh cabbage, microgreens and cheese. We could’ve easily order two of these and make it our meal.

The mix salad with charred grapes, prosciutto and goat cheese was a great follow up. It was a good sized portion if you decide to share. The vinaigrette perfectly highlighted all the ingredients in the salad.

For our main course, we were undecided about ordering the lamb roast or the special balsamic glazed sausage, but we were late. It was gone! We ended up ordering the fillet mignon instead, over a bed of creamy risotto. Nabol was very impressed with how the meat was so nicely seasoned, very tender and topped with a delicious aioli. Nothing to envy steak houses here in Chicago. The whole dish was also sprinkled with microgreens, almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Although we were also too late for desert, the dinning experience itself was what really topped it all up. It feel like eating at a friend's house with food being prepared in front of your eyes.

As a side comment, CLMDO was also short staffed that Saturday, but our food was never late. The waiter and the chef took the time to explain the dishes and check on us, and every member of the team took turns to help each other in serving the tables, prep the dishes and do whatever it takes to make sure customers would leave happy. That to us is passion.

We can't wait to come back. And can’t wait to check out their new venue: Julia’s Restaurant, also in Isabela. I think we’ll also be buying ourselves a cooking torch... Because yes, those charred grapes are nothing but brilliant on top of a salad. And torches are just cool.

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