Paraje Arévalo

There are a lot of good restaurants in Buenos Aires, from parillas to Asian to Peruvian, but there are only a few that offer the all out 8 course taster menu experience that is more common in London restaurants. Nowadays it seems that every chef who wants to start a restaurant of this ilk in Buenos Aires must have spent some time at Noma, El Bulli or The Fat Duck to stand any chance of getting noticed in the cluttered restaurant market. La Vinería de Bolivar’s head chef spent some time at El Bulli for example and this association with the world famous restaurant automatically infers that the restaurant will be of the same calibre. La Vinería is a great restaurant (I will be posting a review soon) but it is still a long long way from the excellence emanating from El Bulli. And so I was a little cynical when I read that the chefs at Paraje Arévalo had done stints at, amongst other places, The Fat Duck. However I hadn’t had a real blow out meal for a while and I am always on the lookout for a new place to eat and so 4 friends and I decided to try it out last Friday.

Paraje Arévalo is not a big place, with probably about 18 covers max, this gives it a quiet subdued atmosphere although our table were perhaps a little on the loud side. Once we sat down we were offered a menu with the choice between a 6 course or an 8 course menu, the 6 course was 130 pesos while the 8 was 150. After a few mms and ahhs we decided it was Friday night and 20 extra pesos didn’t seem a lot more for 2 courses, and dived straight into a bottle of Champagne.

The first thing to be brought out was some delicious home made bread accompanied by the best butter I have had yet in Argentina. Soft, creamy perfectly seasoned with rock salt, I had to restrain myself from not finishing of the entire basket. (9/10)

This was followed by a shot glass of avocado soup with small balls of grapefruit at the bottom. To be honest the reactions around the table were tepid at best (like the soup), it wasn’t that it tasted bad, it’s just that it didn’t really taste of anything much although the grapefruit at the bottom did help give it some flavour. (4/10)

Next up was a pork terrine with honey marmalade, which was a huge improvement on the previous course. The sweetness of the marmalade perfectly complimenting the richness of the terrine, it could have perhaps done with a little more seasoning but still I thought it was great. (7/10)

What followed was a dish that the chef had apparently learnt at the Fat Duck, a poached egg deep fried in breadcrumbs on a bed of salmon and cucumber. I have never seen a poached egg done this way so the chef won prizes for originality. The egg itself was perfect, runny but thick working well with crunchiness of the breadcrumbs. The salmon was a bit plain and I have never thought that cucumber are the most exciting of vegetables but I still really enjoyed the dish as a whole. (7/10)

We then moved on to one of my favourite courses of the evening, small fillets of sardines (one of my favourite and I think underrated fish) on top of a salad made up of peaches and tomatoes and a herb I couldn’t identify. One bite of this and I was transported out of Argentina and out into the Tuscan hills. The fruit was so fresh and went so well with the sardine that had been lightly seasoned, added to this my friend sitting next to me decided it was “too fishy” so I got a double helping. (9/10)

We had now finished with the fish courses and the next one up was roasted quail with mashed potatoes. This again was really good, so good in fact that I forgot to take a photo but I thought I would show you what it looked like once I had finished it. The quall was cooked and seasoned to perfection with a delicious creamy mash below it. Perhaps it wasn’t the most exciting dish in the world but still great comfort food. (8/10)

*eaten too quickly*

The final savoury course was a no brainer, this being Argentina we were served up some delicious Ojo de Bife, perfectly juicy and tender served with fried potatoes. This was a great way to finish off the savoury menu and it was perfectly complimented by the red wine recommended by the restaurant which annoyingly I have lost the name off but will find out. (8/10)

So after a quick palate cleaner of lemon sorbet we moved on to the final desert course, we were given the choice between two so we went for both. First up was a rich chocolate cake with strawberries, the second was a pear sponge cake with vanilla ice cream. The chocolate cake was the one that everyone started fighting over so I think I would award that the winner although the pear cake was very tasty as well. (8/10, 7/10).

And so this brought the meal to an end, and what a good meal it was too. I was perfectly full without feeling like I might slip into a coma, which is how you should feel after 8 courses. The bill came to 250 pesos a head which included 4 bottles of wine and a couple of glasses of port, which although pretty steep for Argentina would be considered a bargain in London. I wouldn’t call it the Fat Duck but I would say that it is up there as one of the best meals I have had so far in Argentina and easily the best taster so far. I can’t wait to go back.

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