This was the third parrilla for us in this extremely beefy town. I think we were spoiled by the fairly dazzling quality of Don Julio, but in any case things here were not in the same league at all. The restaurant, in the interesting Colegiales neighbourhood, had been recommended by an enthusiastic and credible young guy in a wine shop. You can’t win them all.
Reaching the place after about about a 15 minute walk from our AirBNB, we elected to sit outside on a warm still day. Although we had to hurry to make our 1 PM reservation, there was only one of the 20 or so outdoor tables subscribed.
The hostess was businesslike, and the servers efficient but humourless and at first I wondered if they weren’t happy serving non-Spanish-speakers. Robin had a glass of white which was perfectly okay, and we indicated a price range to the alleged sommelier who chose one of five red wine candidates, the 2015 malbec from Altos las Hormigas (Arg$1500; C$45).
We started with a blood sausage which was nice with a strong but not disturbing nutmeg flavor, and a little-bit stiff but still I think natural casing. Traditional tomato and onion and chimichurri condiments were set down, and we were surprised and disappointed to find the latter flavourless and obviously made with dried spices.
Along came the mains, the ribeye steak for me ordered “blue” (parrilla code for really rare) and skirt steak for Robin, ordered medium rare. My steak was done about at-expectation, but for me lacked the flavour I was looking for. Robin liked it better when she tasted it. The skirt steak was of course thin, but cooked completely through and pretty tough although beefy enough flavourwise.
The wine chosen for us was no hell either. It was light on the nose and in the mouth, basically vinous and I would say a bit harsh on the nose, but thin, acidic, and bitter in the mouth. Nothing close to the several other malbecs we had already tasted in a similar price range. I thought of sending it back as a bad bottle but God forgive me was intimidated by the surly servers. The price for lunch was reasonable, which is always the case in this economically-challenged but thoroughly lovely city.
Disappointing. We plan to return and have lunch at Don Julio where we were treated better, and had far better food and wine, on our way home in a week and a half.
Food 7.1, service 7.3, ambience 7.8, value 7.9 (much less money than you would expect to pay for what we were served, but considering the food quality not all that good a deal), peace and quiet 8.5 (there weren’t many other people around).