If the idea of deconstructed, small-plates Argentinian cooking seems a contradiction in terms, grab a counter seat and prepare to be amazed: extraordinary food.
There were no tables when we called to book. ‘But we’re a very counter-focused restaurant,’ they told us. This sounded like maître d’ spin, but on arrival all became clear, because this place is pretty much all counters: ground floor hugging the bar; downstairs around the kitchen. The few diners sat at actual tables looked a little left out by comparison. Watch us work, look how good we are, it seems to say.
Rightly so. This is deconstructed, small-plates Argentinian cooking, and it works – with flavours as good as these, you want as many different mouthfuls as you can get. An empanada’s pastry was expert, as enjoyable as its creamy spinach and raisin filling. Fried chunks of queso de chancho (‘head cheese’) were like a seriously adult version of chicken nuggets. A miniature steak (softened up with the sous vide treatment then blasted on the grill) was flawless, the flavour like undiluted beef cordial.
But the full choirs came out for the sous vide-cooked octopus (with ‘tuna mayo’, no less) and again for some sweetbreads, which were so delicate it seemed cruel to bite into them. But we did, and how sweetly they submitted. Desserts run from a traditional, ultra-sweet ‘tres leches’ milk cake to a tart passionfruit sorbet, and most of the all-Argentinian wine list is available by glass or small carafe. Chef Diego Jacquet has also teamed with restaurateur Alberto Abbate to open sister restaurant Casa Malevo.