Saturday 10 April 2010

A few parrillas

I'm cheating here. I'm digging out a few thoughts from my restaurant notebook because I need to set a scene. Here are a few of the best parrillas I've visited:

El Solar del Conventa, Salta

Frommers says No 1 in town. I love the town, maybe a parrilla to fall in love with too?

Grill in the front, always a good sign. Smart staff, multitude of wines. Wonderful building. A big fat leather bound menu and a busy Monday night.

The guy at the next table tells me his lomo was too salty. He also tells me he shagged the air hostess on his flight from Sydney, so I take his advice with a pinch of it. Bread comes with a great tomato salsa seasoned with thyme. Expectations grow.

Salad is ok. Ribs are good. Bit salty. Potatoes are poor but that's standard. Great local malbec though, Elementos. Good then but just shy again. Still hanging on for the night I get blown away. Five weeks and still waiting.

La Raya, Palermo Viejo

The book talks about a pioneering restaurant in the BsAs parrilla scene. It's not that busy and they're all porteños. Even Coco Basile is here. It must be good. Staff and tables are impeccably dressed. Can't say the same about the punters though. One guy appears to be wearing Maradona's tracksuit. From his Napoli days.

Mollejas are great, crispy, lots of lemon. Asaso de tire is not great. Tough and lacking. Chips come about an hour later and are rubbish. This guy might have pioneered BsAs parrillas but now he needs to pull his finger out.

La Brigada, San Telmo

Bags of promise this one. Good write ups, recommendations from porteños. What can possibly go wrong?

Big place and great inside. Old pics smother every wall, footballs, pennants and memorabilia. Bursting with character. The owner is floating about too, looking like a cross between an extra from the Sopranos and someone out of my Mexico '86 sticker album.

Mollejas de chivito (goat sweetbreads) con salsa de verdeo: bit soft for my liking but sauce is excellent. Chinchulines de chivito (goat intestines) are plaited - look a bit offal like. When crispy, they're okay, when soft, not so. They're too salty.

Asado de tira very tasty but a struggle in places. Waiter makes a show of cutting the 22oz baby beef with a spoon. It is excellent, but too much middle and not enough crust. Why not cut it into steaks? It looks daunting - like you're never going to finish it. Surely it could be done better. Same old gripes.

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