El Baqueano

So I have now been in Buenos Aires for over a month and it time to end the nearly 3 months of radio silence on the blog.

Food here has been very hit or miss. Obviously when you first think of Buenos Aires there are two things that come to mind; steak and wine.

The latter has been almost always superb, the prices cannot be beaten anywhere in the world and the quality is top notch. Whether you choose to spend 30 pesos (a fiver) or 60 you know that you will be getting some decent stuff and I have not been disappointed.

The steaks however have been a lot more inconsistent. I have been to a few asados (read bbq) here and every time the steak has been out of this world good, I mean really, really delicious, succulent, rare, juicy steak that is as good or better than anything I’ve had back in London. The meat isn’t particularly expensive and is bought from the local butcher on the corner, but it really is phenomenal. So you’ll be surprised to hear that no restaurant here has managed to blow me away in the same manner as an asado. I have had some half decent steaks at La Gran Parilla and Desnivel (posts coming) but nothing that made me count the days till I come back. My main criticism is that they are just too heavy and lacking any particular texture. I am not giving up hope yet though and I will continue on my search for the perfect steak that hasn’t been cooked on the local bbq.

So after a few disappointing meals and getting a bit bored of all this steak a few of us decided to try something different. Although there are not yet any Michelin stars in Buenos Aires, there are a few restaurants that are making their way down the path of experimental cuisine in the hope of being the first to garner one. The first one we decided to try was El Baqueno in San Telmo. A nice looking restaurant although a bit empty (I’m not sure how much the Argentines go in for this sort of thing), which definitely looked the part, all soft lighting and velvet chairs, definitely a change from the hustle and bustle from your average parilla.. Reputedly one of Francis Ford Coppola’s favourites, it is owned by Fernando Rivarola and is his attempt to take the attention away from Argentina’s biggest export and back to some its lesser known native meats. You can only choose the tasting menu which consists of 8 courses (10 if you include an amuse bouche and cleanser) and takes in meats such as; llama, cayman, rabbit, boar and rhea (I am not sure this a good translation of the Spanish “ñandu”).

So without much more preamble here is what we had: (I am going to put the Spanish and give the animal in English as my translation skills will not do it justice!)

Bombón salado + alboondiguita de llama + puré de manzana + crocante de arroz (Llama)

This was a nice way to start, I enjoyed the Llama and the apple purée worked well with it.

Yacaré + puré de habas + haba fresca a la menta + crujiente de jamón + brotes verdes (Cayman)

Chewy but tasty would be how I would sum it up. Not my favourite but enjoyed it all the same.

Ensalada tibia - fría de Vizacha arrollada + huevoe de codorniz + vinagreta de miel + reduccion de vino (rabbit)

Too much going on here, the rabbit was hidden underneath all the lettuce and all the ingredients in the salad didn´t work well together.

Trilla + Arroz Caldos + papa fondant + crema de hinojo confitado (red mullet)

The others I was with didn´t enjoy this but I thought it was great, I love red mullet and the sauce was delicious.

Huevo trufado + salsa de setas + pan casero (truffled egg)

My favourite dish, light truffle on a poached egg with a lovely slice of brioche, perfect!

Ñandu + reducciçon de sus jugos + flores de papa casero (ostrich)

A lovely piece of red meat to finish off, perfectly cooked and very tasty.

Puddings:

Texturas y Geometrias de chocolate + cremosa de praline de avellana + helado de yogurth +granita de café

Again a lot going on here, some worked some didn´t but a nice effort.

Sopa de Melón + sorbet de pomelo amarillo `cremoso de palta al wasabi

I am not a huge fan of wasabi at the best of times and didn’t think that it really worked here, although you could see what they were trying to do.

We had an excellent meal here at a pretty decent price around 200 pesos (30 quid) a head. The wine was very different to what you might usually see in an Argentine wine list, we had a very light Viognier and a delicious Pinot Noir (the first I’ve had from Argentina). It would have been fun to have a wine flight if they offered it but the sommelier was very helpful when we were choosing. Not all the courses worked and it certainly a way off Michelin quality but we had a great time and the staff were particularly nice which makes a change!

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One thought on “El Baqueano

  1. Just want to inform you that ostrich and ñandu are diferent birds. Ñandu is called Rhea in the english language. And ostrich is called avestruz in Spanish.

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