A steak in Puerto Madero
Puerto Madero is the old port area of Buenos Aires. Derelict and run down for many years, it is now the site of a huge urban regeneration project, attracting many international architects and designers (Foster, Starck etc), and is the new residential area of choice for many young professionals. Think Liverpool’s Albert Dock area but on a much larger scale.
It’s also the location for many top-notch bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants, including this one:
Cabana Las Lilas (Advanced A), Alicia Moreau de Justo 516, Dique 4 (4313 1336)
Another posh parrilla, possibly the best one in town. It’s a bit over the top , but the beef really is top quality. I was told by several different locals (thanks Erna and Julieta) that I had to try it. The meat is from the restaurant’s own estates (estancias) and has won multiple awards for its quality.
The grill is quite a sight (you can see the kitchen through the plate glass as you enter), like an industrial production line with several steaks being cooked simultaneously. Next to the steak station there’s another huge grill totally dedicated to sausages!
The staff to customer ratio is very high and I was asked at least five times if I wanted water. Once I was settled in though the service was very good. The wine list is on an Ipad which I found a bit showy, but I guess it allows them to update their huge list more easily. Too much information, give me a paper version any day! I just went with the friendly sommelier’s suggestion of the Arroba Cabernet Sauvignon, which was very good (A) for the money, about £25.
A plate of complementary starters arrives at your table unordered and I met my vegetable needs with some excellent baby tomatoes with dried oregano (A), warmed polenta (B+), nice grilled salmon and red pepper (B), but I wasn’t so keen on the tasteless grilled aubergine and boconcinos of mozzarella (C).
You get lots of complimentary bread too, both on the table or from a waiter with a basket with fresh warm buns and loaves who regularly stops by to top you up.
For the meat starters I ordered two tiny links of Morcilla (A) which popped like a balloon when pierced. Also a half portion of Rinones de Ternera (veal kidneys), cooked at the table. They were good (B) but a little overdone, perhaps I should have told him how I wanted them, or maybe he should have asked.
I really wanted to try the Kobe beef but reigned in my spending and went for a big juicy rump steak (the best cut in terms of flavour) and had a Picanha Tapa de Cuadril (A+), which is a thinner cut than the Picanha Summus. You actually get two steaks when it’s cut this way. I had them very rare and they were fantastically tender, one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. My warmed plate (hallelujah) was soon swimming in juices but was chilled too quickly by the powerful overhead fan (choose your seating carefully). I was also given the biggest steak knife I have ever seen.
Sadly I’ve yet to have a decent portion of chips in Argentina and was not impressed by the dry brown thin-cut Papas Fritas (C).
I find the national dessert, Dulce de Leche, to be tooth-achingly sweet but acting on a tip (thanks Gordon) I went for the ice cream version which was delicious (A).
I was about to order a flask of Orujo (Galician aguardente) to go with this but two flasks of complimentary grappa and limoncello suddenly appeared which made this unnecessary. The ‘lemoncello’ was of fairly good quality and slightly cold but still not frozen as it should be (B-). I polished it off nonetheless.
Total spend $530, or about £80 (Nov 2011), which is a bit pricey but it was still a great experience that I’d definitely recommend.