Restaurant Review: Olsen


After years of enjoying Tegui on special occasions, we finally visited Olsen, the original restaurant opened by Germán Martitegui.  Olsen (Gorriti 5870, Palermo; 4776-7677) is a Scandinavian restaurant that has been highly recommended since the day we arrived, it was due time to give it a try.  The front wall of the restaurant was completely open and spilled onto an outdoor covered terrace, which is where we sat.  The waiter greeted us in Spanish, but then switched to English for the remainder of the meal.  This is something that doesn’t bother me as it does some people, I’m fully aware of my appearances as a foreigner, but it was funny that we were fully capable of communicating in Spanish and yet he tried desperately to struggle through in English anyway.

The first item given to us was the vodka list, then the drink list, then the wine list….followed by the food menu – so you know where their priorities lie.  I know virtually nothing about vodka, but our friends were impressed with a specific traditional style of vodka and the way it is served, ice cold in shot glass which is then kept on ice at the table.  It looked very chic, though my pregnant belly prohibited me from doing anything but look.  The inevitable bread course, a staple in Buenos Aires, was a spindle of bagels – interesting and fun, though they were quite dry.

The menu had just undergone a change, and the night we visited Olsen was the first night of a few of their menu items.  The items were so new that after 20 minutes of sitting at our table a hostess said that the English versions had just been delivered to the restaurant if we wanted an English menu.  We did quite alright with the Spanish version – though I appreciate the offer.

Between the four of us at the table, we tried all three new dishes:

I had a grilled chicken with goat cheese potato cakes.  This was outstanding.  The chicken was moist and flavorful and nicely accompanied by a non-cream based dill sauce.  I will take this opportunity to say that there have been very few times I come across dill on any menu in Argentina, Olsen was an exception.  Dill was present in the majority of menu items, in interesting ways that I completely appreciate.  Hats off to dill.
The goat cheese potato cakes were also quite tasty, though there was so much cheese that they were almost overpowering.  I ended up eating them separate from the chicken – they were almost a meal in their own right.  Goat cheese, another rarity in BA, though I will say this version was for the extreme salt-lover.

Jon ordered the lomo, I think.  At this point the dinner was a few weeks ago and we are both a bit sleep deprived so neither of us can remember.  This is not a poor reflection on the restaurant, I do remember his plate being clean when he was done…

Our friends went for the seafood items on the menu.  The first was also a new addition to the menu, the mussels, strangely enough served with large-cut french fries (shown in the background).  The only suggestion here was that the sauce is so good, there should have been some bread to help make the most of the dish.

The second item was a salmon pizza, made without flour.  I’m still trying to figure out how this works.  I believe it was a polenta-based crust, covered with salmon, arugula and pancetta.  I would make a terrible food critic, all I remember was that this was also very good.  Salmon pizza, who knew??

The dessert was, unfortunately, the lamest of the courses.  We ordered the “Giant Oreo Cookie” with high hopes, and though it was a fine dessert that we all finished, there was no comparison to the other dishes.  The cookie itself was a bit dry, the filling was a strange middle-ground between cream and icing.

The moral of the story is: Don’t save room for dessert.  The meals are so packed with flavor, interesting combinations and quality ingredients that there is no need to stop yourself during the primary food courses.  I didn’t even get a picture of the appetizer, we ordered a 3-part smoked fish plate (this had a much nicer name on the menu, though the menu is not posted on their bare-bones webpage and I cannot remember the name to save my life…).  The dish consisted of smoked salmon, trout and caviar – the salmon and trout were delicious, I wasn’t brave enough for the caviar.

Olsen lived up to it’s numerous recommendations, the food was outstanding and the atmosphere was great on a summer night. The interior of the restaurant is a modern, angular warehouse feel, so I will reserve this spot for terrace-friendly evenings.  Preferably when I can enjoy one of their numerous cocktails the next time around….

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