Visited Thursday 14 July 2011.
Argentina signals a return to the original premise of ‘restaurants of the world in London’; eating the country’
s cuisine at a London restaurant. We were spoilt for choice for authentic Argentine grub. From the famous wallet-damaging Gaucho to smaller one-off brasseries there are plenty of Argentine restaurants ready to fill you full of grass fed beef and red wine. Having read that Argentina is famed for its beef we were determined to eat great steak.
After some debate we settled for somewhere in the middle, on a Fulham street, a family-run swankily decorated bar-come-restaurant called Buenos Aires.
The staff were Argentine and extremely welcoming. We had a good bottle of red wine and a selection of small starters, including empanadas and stuffed aubergines which were delicious.
The restaurant serves a range of steaks in varying cuts, sizes and breeds, though all Argentine beef. These are accompanied by chips (because you can’t have steak without chips) with the option of several speciality sauces. The mushroom sauce was delicious although no different to good mushroom sauce at other steak restaurants. The Argentine speciality sauce was disappointing. Not because it was badly executed or poorly flavoured but because it was essentially sliced red pepper and onion in a bath of olive oil. More an accompaniment than a sauce.
The steaks were all extremely good, delicious and marbled with thin veins of fat, beautifully cooked, everything in fact that you could want in a steak. I was however, a tiny bit disappointed. Not because of the food, it was good food, but because I was expecting something really special from Argentine beef. You hear people rave about it, my parents friends in particular always rave about the quality of Argentina’s main export. But I was underwhelmed. It was good beef, great beef even, but it wasn’t the best lump of cow I’ve ever tasted. It does not match up to the local Welsh rump steak we buy from the village butcher every year on our summer holiday in Pembrokeshire. Hung until it’s black and cooked with only the most minimal seasoning over a home barbeque, British beef tops the Argentine contribution anytime. I’d go so far as to say that Buenos Aires steak was the best steak I’ve had in a restaurant but it’s not going to beat the British in Britain.
Desserts were interesting twists on classic dishes. I had a dulce de leche crème brulee and the writer had a dulce de leche cheesecake. Both were delicious although slightly marred by the blob of dulce de leche which had been squeezed onto the side to resemble what can only be described as a dog turd. A sad ending for a truly divine national delicacy.
All in all Argentina was a safe success but it packed a rather hollow punch after some of our previous more action-filled culinary adventures.