El Baqueano

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 Jan 15 – Feb 28

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 with important restaurant discounts

The website Restaurant.com.ar organizes its yearly Tour Gourmet Buenos Aires, an opportunity for all foodies (member of Restaurant.com.ar and the general public alike) to enjoy some of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires with incredible discounts.

In this edition of the Tour Gourmet, from January 15 to February 28, 2013, all participating restaurants offer a 35 % to 50 % discount every day on the total of the check when ordering “a la carte”. There will also be special discounts on wine tastings at the  Sheraton Buenos Aires on specific dates. This is a free event for the general public and doesn’t require registration.

To use this benefit, enter Tour Gourmet website, (in Spanish only) choose a restaurant, print the discount coupon clicking on “Certificado de Beneficio”, and present it when arriving at the restaurant or asking for the check (note some of the discounts are only applied for cash payments).

The list of participating restaurants will be updated every day.

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.  

DECATA

Honduras 6100 Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires

This cosy little corner café on the outskirts of Palermo Hollywood is a definite must for all lovers of trendy yet relaxed casual dining.  Located close to BA’s famous antique market, Mercado de las Pulgas, this chic establishment is the ideal place to sit back, share a dish or two with friends and watch the eclectic mix of BA socialites sip espresso’s and openly discuss their latest plastic surgery procedure.

While the inside section of this cafe restaurant is very classy with high ceilings, old hanging lamps and chalk boards displaying the ‘platos de dias’, the main draw card is the amazing roof top garden and alfresco dining area.  Large, comfy lounges contrasted with antique steel chairs create an idyllic environment, perfectly tailored for the BA sunshine.  I would recommend getting there before 12 on a weekend as it is slowly starting to become more and more popular with locals looking to steal an afternoon away in the sun…I even saw someone bring sunscreen lotion today :)

The food is exceptional!  Freshly baked pizzas, a multitude of sandwich combinations, tasty tapas dishes, sizeable mains and sumptuous cakes (check out the dessert counter when you walk in) make it worth the journey alone but the stand out is the brunch.  Served Sunday’s until 2pm and costing $170 ARS per person (around £24), this mammoth feast surely has something for everyone.  Included is granola, fresh tropical fruit, yoghurt, toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, fajitas (chicken and beef), scones with jam and cream, coffee and orange juice…it’s amazing!!!  They also have a top selection of fresh juices as well as signature juice combinations such as lemon/mint and orange/passion fruit…they’re delish!

Overall – Decata Palermo Hollywood is a fantastic place to take a load off and enjoy great food and great company all while relaxing in the BA sunshine…aces in my book and will continue to return!  You can find them on Facebook here – http://www.facebook.com/DecataPalermo

 

**This restaurant review was written by BAIN Downtown member and blogger, Joel Devenish.  For this and other reviews on everything Buenos Aires, visit his blog: http://joeldevenish.wordpress.com/.  To contribute a review or highlight your blog, contact bain.downtown@gmail.com.  

JD | REVIEWS

Honduras 6100 Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires

This cosy little corner café on the outskirts of Palermo Hollywood is a definite must for all lovers of trendy yet relaxed casual dining.  Located close to BA’s famous antique market, Mercado de las Pulgas, this chic establishment is the ideal place to sit back, share a dish or two with friends and watch the eclectic mix of BA socialites sip espresso’s and openly discuss their latest plastic surgery procedure.

While the inside section of this cafe restaurant is very classy with high ceilings, old hanging lamps and chalk boards displaying the ‘platos de dias’, the main draw card is the amazing roof top garden and alfresco dining area.  Large, comfy lounges contrasted with antique steel chairs create an idyllic environment, perfectly tailored for the BA sunshine.  I would recommend getting there before 12 on a weekend as it is slowly starting to become more and more popular with locals…

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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: Las Pizarras

If your Spanish does not include vocabulary from inside a schoolroom, you may not know that Las Pizarras means “The Blackboards”.  Las Pizarras (Thames 2296, Palermo, 4775-0625) was highly recommended by Dan at the SaltShaker, so highly recommended in fact, that it is in his top 5 recommendations in the Buenos Aires!  This is one of the reasons that my husband Jon went ahead an booked reservations for us on a special night out, and it was a good thing he did because the place was packed by 9:00pm.

True to name, Las Pizarras does not provide any type of printed menu to you at the table, but the menu is incorporated in the decor by being plastered on every open wall surface in the form of a (wait for it….) blackboard!  This is an interesting and novel concept, unless you are the guy sitting right under the blackboard while everyone seems to be staring intently at you all night. This allows for the chef to decide the menu each day and change the components, or the entire dish, at a moment’s notice – which is priceless in a city that is known to have availability issued from one day to the next.

We chose our dishes and were immediately served a burlap sac of outstanding warm bread with an infused coffee butter that I could have eaten as an entree.  Coffee and butter, and unlikely, but delicious combination.

Don’t get stuck on this novelty, you are going to want to save room for your dinner!

Jon ordered the lamb, which was served over a bed of smashed potatoes and topped with a tomato compote, or relish, or something of that nature.  It was tasty, tender and, in a word, gone.

I ordered the risotto, which is not something that I do often, because I feel like it’s one of those dishes better served at home.  This one had multiple kinds of mushrooms in it, which is something that I never make at home due to Jon’s detesting of fungi (a ridiculous aversion considering what other foods we eat, but nevertheless) so I enjoyed a chance to eat mushrooms to my heart’s content at a restaurant.  The serving sizes are not deceiving, they are LARGE, and we enjoyed every last bit of them.
We had a great time meandering through their wine list as well, which was ample and included many of our favorites for really great prices.  Just be sure you bring your glasses if you plan on enjoying wine, the list is on one of the smaller blackboards, and I was having a rough time trying to read the selections (darn you, PRK laser surgery!).
By far the best thing about Las Pizarras is your bill at the end of the night.  For eclectic dishes like this, you might find yourself leaving the restaurant feeling like it was good, but not something that you could afford every weekend – Las Pizarras is the exception.  Our bill was easily 50% of what it would have been anywhere else in the vicinity, and we were much more impressed than we have been at many of the more expensive places we’ve tried.  This was a win many times over with the casual atmosphere, the interesting and tasty dishes to choose from and the affordable prices.
The only downside we experienced was a lapse in the service as soon as the restaurant got busy.  The place has roughly 30 tables and we only saw 2 waiters for the dining room, making it a cliche BsAs restaurant faux pas where you get great service for the first 30 minutes and then fall asleep at the table waiting for dessert and/or the bill.  We’ll give it another shot though, for the positives outweighed the negatives by a lot at Las Pizarras.

***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
Menu
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.  

Restaurant Review – La Pecora Nera

Ayacucho 1785 | Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

It’s not hard to find an Italian restaurant in Buenos Aires…it seems like half the population here are from Italian decent.  In fact Buenos Aires began to accept immigrants in large numbers as early as the 1860′s and an estimated 2,250,000 Italians came to Argentina between 1861 and 1914…so you can see how the city is in love with its pizza and pasta heritage.

However, its all about finding a good Italian restaurant and boy do I have a great one for you to check out.  It’s called ‘La Pecora Nera’ (or ‘The Black Sheep’ in Italian)…a quaint little romantic establishment nestled in one of Buenos Aires ritziest areas, Recoleta.  The atmosphere is very ‘closed’ door reservation only style (I know this because you can’t just walk in, you must be greeted by one of the staff at the locked door), which to some could be perceived as quite pretentious but in actual fact it creates a very intimate setting.

The food is amazing with my wife and I ordering antipasti, platos principals, dolce and cafe (entree, main, deserts and coffee just incase ;) ).  With a nice bottle of Argentinian syrah coating our palates we were ready for our gastronomic adventure to begin.  We started with beef capaccio and a fish pie strudel.  Both were very well seasoned and both came with a small side salad.  Fresh crisp pastry on the strudel and tender thin slices of capacho…yum!  Next course we both had a vegetarian pasta dish.  I had the mushroom ravioli and my wife had a french onion inspired special pasta dish which also turned out to be ravioli.  Whilst I don’t normally order much pasta in restaurants, I have to say this was exceptionally cooked and well filled…more points on the main.

You know when you feel satisfied after 2 courses but not stuffed, like you’ve been force fed too many fries at a cheap restaurant?  Well here we were just right, so dessert was a given.  Boy were we glad we had that left over room because dessert was to die for!  I had a Yin Yang chocolate mousse which was super rich and melted in my mouth!  My wife however had the standout dish of the evening…Apple strudel with homemade cinnamon ice cream…IT WAS AWESOME!!!  Super crisp pastry, freshly cooked apples and the ice cream had to be the most amazing ice cream i’ve ever had…and I’ve been to Italy many times so I know a good gelato when I taste one.  Coffee was coffee, Illy an Italian coffee brand (thank god it wasn’t Argentinian – see my coffee blog, lol) and I topped the meal off with a nice desert wine.

So this place must have cost an arm and a leg right?  Well surprisingly not.  All this for 2 people cost just $488 ARS which is around £68/$100 AUD.  Anywhere you go for that quality of food is a great buy.

Overall this place is tops!  Great atmosphere, top notch super friendly service and outstanding food…what more could you want?  We will definitely be returning soon.

**This restaurant review was written by BAIN Downtown member and blogger, Joel Devenish.  For this and other reviews on everything Buenos Aires, visit his blog: http://joeldevenish.wordpress.com/.  To contribute a review or highlight your blog, contact bain.downtown@gmail.com.