Monday, September 21, 2009

Argentine Steak

Before we left the States, everyone told us that the Argentines are famous for their steaks. I sat next to a Buenos Aires native (called a "porteno") on the plane, and when I asked what the food is like in Buenos Aires, he laughed and said, "Meat, meat, meat! We eat steak for every meal." Since Chad and I are from Texas, we do pride ourselves on knowing a thing or two about meat, so we felt like testing out Buenos Aires' best steak should be our first goal.

I arrived in Buenos Aires on Chad's 25th birthday. Since I know nothing of the city, he said he would reserve a place for us to eat dinner. Chad had tried steak several times already, but never at high dollar restaurants, so he was still unimpressed with the steak but reserving judgment. With a special occasion to celebrate, we headed to the Fodor recommended steakhouse called "La Cabrera Norte." The original restaurant, "La Cabrera," was so popular that they built a second building, a block North.

The menu listed quite a few cuts of beef, including the equivalents of prime rib, tenderloin, flank steak, rump roast, skirt steak, and intestines. We asked the waiter for his opinion on the best steak in the house, and he resoundedly told us to order the Kobe beef steak. Chad said, "Kobe bife? Las vacas estan de Japon, si?" The waiter assured us that the cows are born and raised in Argentina and that they produce the best steaks in the country. So, we ordered Kobe beef steaks (including side dishes) for just about US$17, not bad. We were greatly delighted when they brought out two sizzling steaks, flanked by small bowls of side dishes, plus another platter of side dishes.

Below the two steaks are bowls of hummus, pureed olives, and spicy lima beans. Above the steaks are bowls of pine nuts, mushrooms, and some other sort of bean. On the circular platter of bowls (beginning with the '6:00-ish' position and moving clockwise) is mashed potatoes, olives, roasted garlic, apple/pear sauce, more olives, pears marinated in something tangy, and (in the middle) pureed squash.

The judgment: The steaks had excellent flavor and a hint of crispy char on each side, with just the right amount of dark pink in the center, but the meat just wasn't as tender or juicy as steaks we've had in the States. I hate to say it, but these Argentine Kobe steaks didn't win the MacDonald award. For the sides, we liked the pureed potatoes, roasted garlic, apple/pear sauce, pears, and pureed squash. We thought the lima beans and pine nuts were interesting, but the rest, we could have done without.

After they cleared our plates, we turned down the offer of a desert menu and awaited our check. To our left, we saw a waiter bring a tree of lollipops to a table of middle-aged British men, and I nearly laughed out loud when one of grey-haired Brits smiled widely and exclaimed, "It's a lolly tree!" Our waiter brought us a lolly tree of our own, although we couldn't top our neighbor's excitement.

All-in-all, it was a very good dinner and lovely Argentine (/British) experience. We'll still be on the look-out for more Argentine steaks to try over the next few months.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate you going into detail about your food experience, although it kind of makes me just want to blow off school and come to Argentina now. Maybe it's that new camera that makes it look extra delicious, I'll be sure to bring my matching camera.