Our limited time in Buenos Aires (BA) on this trip limited the number of restaurants we were able to sample. We, however, made our best efforts to sample as many good restaurants as our waistlines could accommodate. This visit’s crop consisted of:
Sucre (Bajo Belgrano). All the natives with whom we spoke suggested that meat was the only thing to eat in BA. But, as we discovered on our last trip, BA does indeed have some wonderful contemporary restaurants. This conclusion was more than confirmed with a stop at place that our hotel recommended highly—and deservedly so. This large, popular, glitzy, modern restaurant with Plexiglas walls lined with bottles of premium wine and whiskey, has a diverse menu ranging from steak, to seafood and vegetable dishes. We shared a refreshing appetizer (wood-grilled asparagus and local scallops with bread crumbs in a lemon vinaigrette) and two seafood entrees: black rice a la plancha with prawns, leaks and wild mushrooms; and Patagonian lake trout on creamed corn with black corn and watercress on the side. The creamed corn worked beautifully with the trout and the black rice was with leaks and mushrooms were very good. The only disappointment is that the rice dish had a measly two prawns. All three dishes went well with the somm-recommended 2013 Mendel Semillon from Mendoza. The meal ended on a high note with white chocolate ice cream on a bed of chocolate crunch, with watermelon ice and cherries. Service was wonderful.
El Mirasol (Centro). A popular upscale parrilla where Tom indulged in a rib eye steak and Joyce reverted to what has become her customary parrilla dish—chicken breast in mushroom sauce. Both these main dishes, along with an accompaniment of creamed spinach, were very good. As was the excellent wine, a 2011 Alta Vista Terroir Select Malbec.
Fervor (Recoleta). A nice, traditional Argentinean restaurant where we had only two small dishes for lunch. Tom was happy with the meat empanada (Santiago style, whatever that is) that he had been craving. Joyce, in the mood for more fish, took a flyer with a flathead fish which, as we discovered, was a form of sole-like catfish that was prepared like sole (Meunier style). Although more mild than catfish with which we are familiar, it did have an earthy taste with somewhat of an oily texture. Not our favorite. This said, we did enjoy to marinated tuna and butter beans with the flatbread served before the meal. Nor did we have any complaints with the service or with our glasses of Malbec and Chardonnay.
Dos Ninel Parilla (San Telmo). Our initial lunch choice in San Telmo was closed. So, while we were standing in front of the shuttered restaurant pondering alternatives, a passer-by assessed our situation and asked if we were looking for an alternate “carne” (meat) restaurant. She (in Spanish) recommended a nearby neighborhood that we found to be crowded, but accommodating. Joyce played it safe, with fried calamari rings. Tom, being a bit more adventurous, requested the offal plate. After our cautious server confirmed that he knew what I was getting in for, brought a heaping plate of beef kidneys, sweetbreads and tripe. While I enjoyed the kidney and sweetbreads, the meal confirmed that I still have not developed a taste for tripe. Everything, including the calamari, was very good with a local special brew—1890.
El Federal (Retiro). A traditional Argentinian restaurant where we began with nice flakey-crusted empanadas cheese, beef and sweet corn), followed by one seafood dish Patagonian Trout with pureed Patagonian potatoes with fennel, toasted pine nut and lime/merguen ice cream) and a hearty traditional lamb dish slow cooked with malbec/merguen sauce, carrots and mushrooms. We these dishes we had a 2011 Bodega Caelum Reserva Malbec. Good service and traditional rustic cuisine.
Buenos Aires Hotel: CasaCalma Hotel
Very nice boutique hotel. We had some issues the first night regulating the air, but figured it out and it worked fine for the rest of the time. Bed was comfortable and we were given one firm and one soft pillow each. Great shower, and double sinks. No bathrobe surprisingly. Large double person Jacuzzi and washcloths. The staff was very obliging and helpful—especially helpful in taking us to the police and translating for us so that we could get a police report on being mugged (see previous blog). Good breakfast assortment. Breakfast area is small so they will also bring it to your room at no extra charge.