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A La Cruz (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Argentinian Clerkenwell

Time Out says

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

Please note, A La Cruz has now closed. Time Out Food editors, February 2019.

Buen Ayre in Hackney’s Broadway Market, is a well-regarded Argentinian grill that we rate as one of the best places to eat in east London. We were delighted to hear they were opening a new branch behind Exmouth Market, this time with a fire pit, or ‘asador’, in addition to the more usual parrilla (grill).

On a quiet night we were seated in Siberia by the door, with a cold draught whistling through. We asked to be reseated, near the asador. This particular asador is on display but enclosed by panels of safety glass, with silhouettes of metal cages surrounding the open flame, trapping the butchered carcasses within. It’s a dramatic sight if you’re sitting near the asado – but if you are, be warned that your clothes may also be smelling kippered by the end of the evening, as smoke still escapes.

It’s shame then that our visit was marked by slow and inattentive service, and indifferent food. Our drinks orders were forgotten, twice. Our food took nearly an hour to arrive, and when it did, it went to an adjacent table first.

For a restaurant that stakes its reputation of meat, we were disappointed that a cut of beef flank was cooked so dry and tough it was the consistency of rope, and therefore remained barely touched on the plate. Better was the beef flank on the bone, which although well-cooked, was nothing extraordinary. Maybe they were still getting to grips with this new asado. Other Argentinian grills in the capital, of which there are now several, do a more consistent job.

The starters were better, if prosaic. A tomato salad consisted of whole greenhouse tomatoes, slightly underripe, topped with some white onion rings. Empanadas had good, crumbly pastry and simple fillings, but came with no salsa accompaniment. Black pudding was the tastiest dish, though again was just that – a sausage-sized pudding on a plate, moist and well-flavoured, with no accompaniments, salad or garnishes.

We really wanted to like A La Cruz, but on the basis of our visit, it has to make a lot of improvements before we’re able to recommend it to anyone except hard-core Buen Ayre enthusiasts and camp followers.

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Details

Address: 42 Northampton Road
London
EC1R 0HU
Transport: Tube: Farringdon tube/rail
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