El Baqueano

Address: Chile Nº 495 esquina Bolivar
Phone: 4342-0802

This gem of a restaurant located in San Telmo, a barrio in the city where we rarely get to for dinner. It’s a shame too, because this is a fantastic place to eat. Thank you to Daniel Taddese for your talk at the BAIN June Monthly Meeting for letting us in on this little secret!

Reservations are a must and they don’t print menus.  The inside is modestly decorated but comfortable with a large bar – though it doesn’t look like the bar seats are used much. There is a set “degustacion” that changes every 3 months or so, presented on a chalkboard to each table as you sit down.  The set menu has eight steps for AR$230 with the three supplemental steps available for an additional price per dish.

There is also the wine pairing available for an additional AR$135, we skipped this option but it was an ample amount of wine for the price.

The meal started with a choice of freshly baked oregano or whole grain bread along with an olive oil tasting.  I can’t pretend that my pallet is refined enough to know the difference between the oils, but they were all good with bread and we ate all of them and asked for seconds.

The first step off of the menu started a theme that continued through the meal.  Degustacion de papas was potatoes served a few different ways.  There were mashed, roasted, fried and delicious.

Each step was completely different.  We enjoyed llama, shrimp, deer, beets and all of them made with ingredients from Argentina.  It helped that they were all quite pretty to look at too.

Beets served multiple ways, delicious just like the potatoes, but there is something about pureed beets that makes me think of the opening credits to Dexter.

I also appreciate a pre-dessert palate cleanser.  It doesn’t take away from the dessert, but gives you something sweet prior to the real deal.  This particular course had a great fruit sorbet, topped with peppercorns, a strange and surprisingly solid pairing.

For the next degustacion we had apples.  This time there were more ways than I thought possible to prepare apples on the plate; a fried apple chip, pureed apples, thinly sliced “raw” apples, an apple sorbet, some sort of apple gelatin surrounded by a cold apple broth.  Good, clean, fresh except the gelatin, which is never a good idea in my mind.

The final course, the real dessert was a ying/yang chocolate dish.  The chocolate was rich and tasty, and the presentation was cool, the waitress poured the two sauces at the table, but the white chocolate was a miss.  It was served cold while the dark chocolate was served hot, which added to the fact that in contrast there was no flavor to the white chocolate – it was more milk-y than dessert-y.  Don’t get me wrong, I ate the whole thing, but that would be my response if anyone ever asked :).

This was a great meal, quiet atmosphere and interesting food all at a decent price here in Buenos Aires.  It also gives me more reason to return to San Telmo, a place I rarely go after dark.  Our next visitors looking for a fun place to eat should keep this one in mind!  We will certainly be back.

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….

Gastronomic Festival of the Foreign Communities

Thank you to My Buenos Aires Travel Guide for the information below.  To keep up with this an other events in Buenos Aires, we have added a feature called “Blogs We Read” to the lower right-hand corner of the BAIN Downtown site.  Or, subscribe to My Buenos Aires Travel Guide and receive all of her posts though email!

Gastronomic Festival of the Foreign Communities

A giant food court representing 35 different foreign communities living in Buenos Aires will be set up on Avenida de Mayo Saturday, March 9th, 2013 from 4:00 pm.
The typical dishes of every region will be offered in 80 food stands along Avenida de Mayo and Bolivar, as well as crafts and traditional products of every represented country.
The Queen of the Communities will be crowned, selected among the representatives of every country. At 7:30 pm the pageants will be carried along Av. de Mayo to the stage by a parade of antique Ford T cars. At 9:00 pm they will model the typical dresses of their represented country or region and evening dresses.
The crowning ceremony will be accompanied by different music shows.
In case of rain the event will be postponed for Saturday 16th.
Free entrance

El Burladero: New Spanish Place in Town

El Burladero

 Two favorite restaurants in the city, Fervorand Sottovoce, are owned by the same company.  One of Jon’s coworkers told him about a new concept to the same company, El Burladero, and we went to try it out 2 days later.
El Burladero (Uriburu 1488, between Peña & French, 4806-9247) is the newest theme for this restaurant group, and though it just opened in August of this year, it has received overwhelmingly great reviews in every outlet I have found.We just barely got a reservation for the night we wanted to come in, the only time slot they had available was 10:30pm, and it was completely packed when we arrived AND when we left.The restaurant is simply decorated, lots of framed pictures and Spanish artifacts lining the walls.  There are large chalkboards advertising signature dishes and a few seats at the bar for folks – like us – who need to wait until their table is ready.  As as perk of waiting, they offer you the choice between a glass of champagne or a small draft beer – the beer is nothing special but it is rare to find anything on draft in the city.

Once we were at a table, we were offered the same great selection of bread they have at Sottovoce and Fervor, and they have an appetizer list filled with tapas and seafood. 

Each main course dish is large enough to share, though we decided to go against the waiter’s suggestion and order three dishes for our group of 4 people.  As a result, we had enough food for 8 people, and the waiter gave us an “I told you so” look that was virtually caught on film.  This was him dishing out our paella, the smaller portion which was more than sufficient for 4 people.  There are a few different types of paella to choose from, we chose the seafood option, though there are at least 3 other varieties.

Many of the dishes can be ordered a la carte, you can choose the protein (fish, chicken, beef, seafood…) the side and the way you want it to be prepared.  We chose the fish of the day, served with grilled vegetables “Spanish style”and a chicken dish served with rice and a saffron sauce.

All of the entrees were tasty, fresh and quite different from anywhere else we’ve eaten in the city.  The chicken dish was a little low on meat, but considering the amount of extra food we had, I’m not complaining.  This is a great addition to our eating out repertoire, we are happy campers!

***This restaurant review was written by BAIN Downtown member and blogger, Dawn Gill.  For this and other reviews on expat life, visit her blog: http://www.dawnandjon.blogspot.com.ar/.  To contribute a review or highlight your blog, contact bain.downtown@gmail.com.  

Restaurant Review: Dada Bistrot

Dada (San Martin 941: 4314-4787, Retiro) is old school in more ways than one. This little “bistro” has only a dozen tables, a handful of bar stools, no host and instead of reservations they give you a window of time – which they may or may not adhere to. Despite, or rather because of this, the super-casual atmosphere was exactly what we were looking for when we visited for dinner a few weeks ago. Once again, Time Out was instrumental in guiding us to this restaurant, because even though Dada has been recommended to us by multiple people, we never seem to remember it when we’re thinking of a new place to go. We certainly weren’t the only ones that relied on the magazine for a Dada recommendation, here the bartender is actually posing with a copy of Time Out for another patron’s photo.

This is one of the first real bars we’ve been to since moving here. The bartenders are quick, ready to refill your drink and actually interact with the people sitting at their bar. Our “reservation” was at 11:00pm, and though we waited for awhile after that time came and went, we were well tended to and were even asked if we wanted to order at the bar instead of waiting for a table. This is second nature to most places in the US, but rarely, if ever happens at restaurants in BsAs. I ordered a caipiroska (which was delicious) and Jon had a beer, which was served to him in a wine glass – we are still missing out on draft beer. The only draft they offered was Quilmes, which is like asking for an agua con gas.

Since we had some time to get hungry while we waited, it was nice that menu features and specials were written out on chalkboards around the restaurant. The bar features Ruca Malen wines, which is a great quality choice, though somehow not what I was expecting for this more rustic-style place. Dada continued to surprise me with the best hummus and pita chips appetizer I’ve had in Argentina (I should note that I’ve only had this dish a handful of times, not a popular offering in local restaurants) – such a strange collection of items, but somehow it works.

I ordered a steak salad as my main dish, while my husband had the lomo. Both dishes were delicious, and we had devoured them before I had a chance to take any photos. The food was far more elegant than you would originally expect when looking at the bar, but it’s one of the many surprises we had at Dada.

I will say that as the night went on, service got more and more scarce. We asked for our check two or three times before finally receiving it at 1:30am (!!). Considering the food, wine, drinks and bar service were all great, something had to give.

All in all, a great spot that we will return to for future casual nights out.

***This restaurant review was written by BAIN Downtown member and blogger, Dawn Gill.  For this and other reviews on expat life, visit her blog: http://www.dawnandjon.blogspot.com.ar/.  To contribute a review or highlight your blog, contact bain.downtown@gmail.com.  

Restaurant Review – La Fabrica del Taco

Gorritti 5062 | Palermo Soho

Looking for Mexican Food in Buenos Aires?

Everyone knows that I absolutely LOVE Mexican food, but the choices here are limited. Most Argentines do not like spice. They even think pepper is spicy! There are only a handful of Mexican restaurants here. Maria Felix is the WORST and it’s expensive. Xalapa is pretty good, but only certain dishes are delicious. Their beans and burritos are bland and boring. There is a smaller place called La Fabrica del Taco which has amazing food and is pretty reasonably priced. The drinks are good and they have more to offer than just a regular frozen margarita like most restaurants here. The inside of the place is decorated with Mexican wrestling masks which always reminds me of the movie Nacho Libre. They have televisions that play Mexican music videos from the 80s and 90s and it is absolutely hysterical. I guess it can be considered a dive, but the food is pricier than that. They have REAL hot sauce and the tacos are unbelievable. We go once every few weeks to get our Mexican fix in BA. Here are some pictures of the restaurant:

Pork cooking on a spit
Piggy Bank for tips
View of the inside of the restaurant
The kitchen is bustling
Fresh juices
Real hot sauce!!!!!

La Fabrica del Taco has a limited delivery area or take out service where you can order online or by calling in. They offer a 2 for 1 Happy Hour Tuesday – Sunday and are closed on Mondays.  

**This restaurant review was written by BAIN Downtown member and blogger, Moira Griffiths.  For this and other reviews on expat life, visit her blog: http://mg-in-ba.blogspot.com.ar/.  To contribute a review or highlight your blog, contact bain.downtown@gmail.com.