Buenos Aires is not a city that is famed for its seafood. Apart from the plethora of Peruvian places where you can gorge on ceviche, there isn’t really a huge choice of places to go to when you want some nice grilled fish. I’ve been told Trapiche do a decent salmon steak on their parilla but haven’t had a chance to sample it yet. Whenever you ask anyone in this town where to go for fish they will invariably mention Oviedo at some point in the conversation. This is the go to place for many when they want to scratch their seafood itch. Everything is brought in fresh, not frozen and they even have oysters on the menu. I’d been once before a while ago but didn’t get a chance to blog it and I wanted to go back before I leave Buenos Aires for good.
One of the reasons I had only been once since I arrived here is that the best fish in Buenos Aires comes with a bit of a hefty price tag. As one of my companions, the supremely talented pickupthefork, commented when we sat down; “this is a grown up restaurant”. We were by far the youngest table in the restaurant which was fully of middle aged Recoleta types; lots of suits and fur and a few raised eyebrows at the English speaking youths who were placed in the corner of the restaurant. Although the crowd in Oviedo is quite old and stuffy, the restaurant still has a nice atmosphere albeit a slightly restrained one. The well-dressed waiters scurry around serving everyone from little white tables and generally being quite effusive and the place has a nice buzz to it.
The menu at Oviedo is both pricey and varied. The starters are a mixture of seafood (oysters, prawns, baby squid) and Spanish style tapas (croquettas, jamon serrano). A plate of the baby squid will set you back $80 and even the croquettas were $40. We decided to share a couple of the plates between us, tapas style. The jamon serrano was very good, lovely and light with a lovely earthy flavour. It was however $80 and although it was a decent sized plate this disappeared quite quickly between four of us. The baby squid was again a lovely texture but needed quite a bit of seasoning which was a shame as it was well cooked and very fresh. We shared one plate between us which meant we had about one and half baby squid each, not really enough but all we were prepared to get at that price. The final thing we got was a plate of the croquettas which really let the side down. They were very dry, lacking any proper flavour and there weren’t nearly enough of them considering that all they are just breaded potato. I love croquettas when they are done well but these were not good at all and a complete rip off at $40.
Mains were where Oviedo came into its own. This is what we were here for: the fish. Sole, hake, salmon and cod were what were in that day and we picked a range of stuff. I went for the sole, not a fish I usually order as I find it too light and not very filling. This dish has changed my opinion massively though. A very generous portion of three perfectly cooked fillets with a deliciously smooth mash and a rich sauce to go with it, I was in fishy heaven.
The salmon was of a similarly high standard, big and meaty with lovely veg, another winner.
The only let down of the mains was what the menu called prawn and wasabi ravioli. This sounded delicious but what arrived was definitely not what I would call “ravioli”. In fact there wasn’t a ravioli in sight. What arrived was a long line of battered prawns with a smearing of wasabi on the side. The prawns weren’t bad but it wasn’t the sort of thing you wanted as a main course but would have been a perfectly decent starter to share. It was not what the menu described and nowhere near as good as the grilled fish that the rest of us were enjoying. A bit of a pity really as we would really liked to have ordered something else if we’d known what was going to come out.
Our bellies and our wallets didn’t allow us to try any of the desserts but that wasn’t really why we’d come anyway. And although we had balked a little when we first saw the menu, the bill came out at $200 a head which, considering we’d had 2 bottles of very decent Viognier and some starters was a lot less than I’d feared. I would still rate Oviedo as one of the best fish restaurants in the city but it is definitely high up on the treatsy scale. But everyone likes to treat themselves once in a while, don’t they?