Doppelganger Bar, San Telmo 11-2016

Doppel is known for cocktails and atmosphere rather than food. But it seemed easy enough to get some (expensive) foods to accompany the drinks. After perusing a long cocktail list, the waiter asked what sort of drinks we liked. In the end there was one sour and one sweeter, of which a few ingredients were revealed at the time, and now I realise them all after looking at the receipt, menu and online.

- Humpty Dumpty master cocktail (cognac, Hendricks, chartreuse, sambuca, lemon, prosecco, ristretto) ARS165
- Isidoro Canones (Zubrowka vodka, brandy, contreau, St. Germain elderflower, lime, mango, pomelo) ARS165

The drinks were nice, fruit and refreshing and it would have been great to find a spot at the bar to see the action and chat to some neighbours.

- Calamares salteados al ajillo con papas doradas ARS165 - nicely seasoned calamari with garlic in a sauce, not deepfried like I expected;
- Langoustine wantons (marinated in ginger & spices) ARS195 - not wontons but prawns coated in a thin fried shell.

Nuestra Parrilla, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Nuestra Parrilla (or Freddy's Parrilla - both the same place despite both names being used online) is a San Telmo institution. The food is cheap, hearty and tasty and the best known item is the choripan, a chorizo (ie. housemade sausage rather than the heavily smoked type I'm used to in Spain) in bread. It is a hot dog, but a damn fine version where the sausage is the specialty and cooked over the coals of a parrilla.

Nuestra doesn't have a sign or at least not one that I saw. But the people eating inside and outside and the smell wafting around the south entrance to the San Telmo mercado made it easy to spot (and Google Maps helped too).

For ARS35, the sausage choices are chorizo and morcilla. Both are delicious, probably the chorizo moreso with a deeper meaty flavour. The morcilla has the distinctive flavour albeit not that strong but still good. The textures of both sausages are nice and smooth. I went back a few days later (the carpark choripan in the Sunday feria smelt great but I couldn't justify it for ARS65-70) and tried the vaciopan (beef flank in bread) for ARS80. It was a long roll with two big slices of meat cooked through. It was chewy as expected (I think rare isn't an option in that kind of place particularly when the meat is cooked until it is ordered) but it tasted nice my incisors had a good time tearing away at it.

All the choices, in particular the flank, were improved by a healthy serving of both chimichurri and salsa criolla which added herb flavour, texture and lemon tang.

It isn't the best of the meat places but it may be one of the cheapest and possibly the best value for money. Satisfying.

Jauja, Buenos Aires 11-2016

After the exceptional icecream in El Calafate and Puerto Iguazu, Buenos Aires seemed an usual dream where every corner around San Telmo had either a Freddo or another helado artesanales. I meant to try Freddo but didn't get around to it which is a shame. Apparently all are good but everyone has their preferences.

Volta and Jauja were closely located. I walked past Volta and their special deal of one scoop for ARS20 in favour of Jauja only to find their double scoop for ARS68. Oh well, it seems a standard price in Argentina.

Jauja is run by some people from Patagonia. I was hoping to try some of the berry flavours but they didn't have calafate. Luckily they did have corinto, a tiny red berry that I had tried at Cangrejo Rojo in Punta Arenas (there they called it parras), which is a sweet zingy berry with hints of raspberry tones but not sour. I also had their cardamom which was unusual and tasted strongly spiced as expected.

It definitely wasn't the best I've had, it was thinner and less creamy than the other places in Argentina. But the range of flavours is definitely more creative and experimental and that's one of the best things that separates this from the rest.

Mishiguene, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Mishiguene sounded like something a little different to the rest of places available in BA. The Eater 38 ( summarises it as Jewish and Middle Eastern with exceptional bone-in pastrami. That was more than enough reason for me to visit, along with the convenient location between MALBA and Palermo and near the heladerias Jauja and Volta.

I walked past and read the menu on the outside restaurant wall. The dishes sounded fantastic (pastrami, lamb and what I thought was falafel) and seemed reasonably priced at around (ARS120-170 each) possible for sharing. Unfortunately once inside there was only a set lunch available (ARS260 including a drink and either tea/coffee). I would have much preferred just the food but sadly that wasn't an option.

The lunch options were explained as either a single plate from the salad bar that you can't share (actually looked quite good), pastrami or fish of the day with an addition (guarniciones), varenikes pasta, or pastrami sandwich.

Some lovely soft white pita were served to start with a thick hummus topped with walnuts. It was one of the best Middle Eastern pitas I've had.

- Pastron de Novillo con fondo de coccion natural - beef (brisket perhaps) with delightfully soft tendrils of delicious salinity meat. I haven't had much experience with pastrami but this was exceptional. I added the side of farfalaj salteado con cebolla which I thought was falafel (even though that would be an odd side to pastrami). In fact farfel I later discovered is a noodle with little chewiness (reminded me of a thin barley) and cooked in an onion sauce;
- Varenikes - essentially a potato-filled (although I think the menu said chicken) ravioli topped with onion sauce and fried onions. It was very thick and heavy dish overall with a flavour of (expectedly) onion and salt.

The food was satisfying but I wasn't thrilled about having to pay for two drinks as part of the set lunch menu. I'd happily go back during dinnertime and eat the pastrami again.

El Cuartito, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Argentina has a large Italian influence. It is therefore not surprising that they do a couple of Italian foods quite well - gelato, pizza and pasta specifically. I had been lucky enough to eat the delicious Italian-style thin pizza at La Mesita Grande in Patagonian Chile and the exceptional pasta at La Mamma in Puerto Iguazu, but Buenos Aires porteño pizza had another reputation in itself as a thick cut heavily cheesed beast that made it a local variation and specialty.

El Cuartito and Guerrin are two of the big name pizza arenas. Of course there are many others, but those two seemed to be the most commonly mentioned. Guerrin is listed in the Eater 38 BA recommended list but El Cuartito seemed to have the slightly better reputation with my online readings. Both are located close together and near the central tourist area just west of the Obelisk so made it easy to pay a visit.

At about 4pm the place was half-full with only middle-aged and older locals enjoying an impressive amount of pizza. It made for a good atmosphere amongst the sporting memorabilia dating back many many decades and the TV showing sport. I have no doubt it would be a great place to have pizza, drinks and watch some national sport.

Fugazzeta (yes, double-z and one-t) is the national type but known to be an impossible feat to finish a whole pizza of it. I didn't realise you could order half-half pizzas here (I saw some locals doing it) or I may have been tempted but I'm glad I didn't. One slice of it was enough (ARS31) - a thicker crust topped with an insane amount of thick melty cheese and topped with fried onions. It was a satisfying slice more akin to drunk food than sober food, but one was definitely enough.

El Cuartito (seasoned tomato sauce, ham, mozzarella cheese, natural tomato slices, sweet peppers, garlic & parsley, baked eggs, parmesan grated cheese & green olives) ARS190 for a small was a more standard set of pizza toppings other than the hardboiled eggs.

After that a slice of Anchoas (ARS25) finished off the meal with a double seasoned tomato sauce and fresh looking anchovies (with skin attached at least) and potent salinity - just how I like it.

The thick crust is one of the defining factors in porteño pizza. It was reminiscent of the thicker crust from the cheap nasty pizzas in the 1990s like Pizza Hut, with the difference being a nice crust, chewy insides, good seasoning and not saturated in oil and high quality toppings. I do fancy a good thick crust these days (like the types in NYC) although I daresay the NYC crust had a nicer crunch, seasoning and some extra oil.

Don Julio, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Argentina is known for beef and the parrilla. Therefore all carnivores naturally should eat the meats on offer at a respectable parrilla. Of course there are cheap ones and higher end ones and not all beef and not all chefs are created equally. After testing the parrilla waters and enjoying Patagonian specialties at La Tablita (, the cheap everyday version at Nuestro Parrilla, and also something in between as El Desnivel (, it was time to finish with the reputed star of the show. La Brigada was another nearby option in San Telmo and La Cabrera another big reputation place, but I couldn't go back the San Pellegrino rating for Don Julio in the decision.

Don Julio is listed in the SP Top 50 Latin American restaurants this year at #21. For a steakhouse that's a pretty big accolade. For it to therefore be the highest rated parrilla in Argentina is another accolade. It was convenient that Don Julio was open on Monday which was my last night in BA - if not, I may have been likely to have been there earlier and so the meat journey may have descended rather than finishing with the culmination.

The neighbourhood of Palermo is nice to walk through, although I wish I'd know the nicest looking streets to walk down are probably Armenia from Costa Rica onwards, and so spent less time above it closer to Plaza Italia. Nonetheless walking from MALBA to Palermo was a good way to initiate hunger. The reservation was at the opening time of 7pm, very early for a BA dinner. I'm glad though because it was a nice time to eat, leave just as night was settling in to catch the bus back to San Telmo. Additionally from about 8pm onwards, there was a constant large group of people waiting outside having a drink and waiting for a table.

I really would have liked to have tried a starter of fried empanadas, mollejas (sweetbreads) or kidney, or the provoleta or chorizo. In hindsight I should have starved myself more tactically beforehand but in the end I came for beef and was leaving with beef in my stomach. The SP information page says the owner recommends housecuts like rump and skirt. I'll be honest and say I wanted that sirloin has been my favourite cut since the meal at A511 ( when I finally understood that at the highest end fillet gives you a tiny bit of extra tenderness for a lot less flavour. My sirloin was asked for "MUY jugoso" and then confirmed in English as rare. What surprised me was the waiter asking how we wanted the ribs, "medium?" The question took me by surprise and I never knew ribs were cooked to order as always low and slow but cooked through, especially since undercooking the ribs will mean the meat sticks to the bone. Sure, medium sounds good.

A large selection of bread is served initially with a mixed chilli/chimichurri, a tomato and onion salsa, butter and 3 strengths of EVOO. I've never been given a choice of EVOO strength before and naturally the strongest and best was quite grassy.

- Bife de Chorizo ancho (thick sirloin steak) ARS311 - an immaculate piece of perfectly rare meat, with a nicely seasoned crust and exceptional slightly salty flavour to the meat. It was wonderfully tender and a joy to eat without needing any condiments;
- 1/2 Asado de Tira (short ribs) ARS333 - medium ribs served medium with a pinkish hue belying the tender layers of meat and fat in short cross section. Similarly exceptional flavour, probably a little stronger saltiness than the sirloin given the higher ratio of Maillard surface. The softest beef ribs I've had without exception (although expectedly less tender than the sirloin);
- Salad of quinoa, roasted squash, toasted hazelnuts, green onion, fresh mint ARS165 - the salad was presented beautifully at the table. The waiter asked which strength of EVOO to add then proceeded to mix everything up before I could take my photo. Oh well. The salad was a nice complement of textures and some balsamic added for tang;
- dessert of caramel flan with cream and dulce de leche ARS125 - this was an unnecessary sweetener to finish the meal. It was fine but if I had stomach space, I'd go for a meat appetiser next time.

Are they the best pieces of beef I've ever eaten? The ribs is an easy yes for that cut. The sirloin may be (perhaps second only to 511 but different prices, availability and reasons to enjoy each) and if not then equally or pretty damn close. Both cuts were superb and if again I'd probably opt for the sirloin of the two. However the best would be to go with a few extra people and share the full rack of ribs or a ribeye and some starters.

It makes me wonder how good Asador Etxebarri is to be highest rated woodfired grill and smoke in the world. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long to find out.

El Baqueano, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Buenos Aires has a heap of restaurants in the San Pellegrino Latin America Top 50 Restaurants list. Choosing one for a special meal was very difficult with the competition including Tegui (9), El Baqueano (13), Don Julio (21), Aramburu (26), Elena (31), La Cabrera (33), Chila (35) and Pura Tierra (50).

I'd already skipped Borago (3) in Santiago so this choice had to be made carefully. I automatically removed anything that wasn't Argentinean but that really didn't change much. In the end the appeal of local "indigenous meats" as is advertised such as llama, alligator and the such from all over Argentina won out. Additionally being located so close to my Airbnb in San Telmo certainly helped too.

I was sent the degustation menu via email when I made the booking. On the night itself no menu was presented (perhaps they thought I wouldn't be able to decipher a cryptic gourmet Spanish menu anyway) and simply informed it was a 9 course degustation menu (for ARS1300) and emphasised the theme of all local ingredients around Argentina. It was surprising for a Thursday night that there were so few diners in a Top 50 Restaurant but I suppose there's so much choice in BA including the other top rated places.

Apertivo Consome de Setas (Costa Atlantico)
- This dish comprised of many forms of mushroom from the coast. It started as the visuals of powder and mushroom pieces in the bowl then the mushroom wine consumé was added at the table. The textured ranged from crumbly powder (that stuck rather than dissolved), slimy pieces (not unpleasantly so) soaked in vinegar and a mild watery broth;

Aguachile de Vegetables de Estacion
- A "ceviche" of seasonal vegetables including asparagus, some kind of taro-like root, cucumber, dill and edible flowers. The carrot-looking pieces were made of egg yolk. It was topped with an asparagus sorbet (strong and unusual) and at the table with a lemon, cucumber and chilli dressing. It was very refreshing, well balanced chilli, citrus and tangy, and multiple textures;

Bread arrived after the 2nd course (a little odd for timing) and consisted of a mild garlic white, rye and a salt crystalled (and thus most flavoursome of the 3) focaccia.

Crudo de Llama, Quinoa, Amaranto (Desierto Andino)
- My favourite dish of the night was a llama carpaccio from Salta which had a surprisingly mild flavour like fish. I did expect something more game tasting. Amaranth crackers enabled picking up of the meat. The most impressive part was actually the trio of coloured quinoa, half cooked first then either fried or roasted (or both) which had a sensational crunchy texture and a wealth of grain flavour;

Pil Pil al Reves (Atlantico Sur)
- A delicious dish of translucent, soft prawns from Puerto Madryn with still a slight crunch. Tiny clear krill added extra flavour and the orange sauce (of unclear origin, perhaps prawn brains?) and olive oil were beautifully mopped up with the bread until none was left. Potato garlic crackers were there but I much favoured the bread-soak method;

Roca de Mar Mimetica (Atlantico Sur)
- This dish was identified as Camouflaged Sea Rocks and left to determine the ingredients ourselves. It turned out to be a soft but meaty and stringy white salmon coated by black vegetable colour (not squid ink or charcoal) with a delicate mild salty flavour. There was wasabi yoghurt, floret cracker of kale, and egg white and seaweed sponge. So much variety of texture and hints of flavour;

Wanton de Sudado (Dorado)
- Perhaps I have a different concept of wonton. This skin was very thick and dense and neither crisp nor soft. It housed dorado riverfish and topped with bonito flakes wilting and dancing. The consumé made from the fish had a strong umami and slight chilli edge;

Liebre Patagonica, Espuma de Hibiscus (Meseta Patagonica)
- This was indigenous meat at its finest. Delicious tender Patagonian hare glowing red. Unlike typical white and dry rabbit presentations, this was incredibly soft and tender with a mild flavour. The flavour wasn't gamey and overall flavour/texture similar to the best chicken you've never had. It was accompanied by a berry combination of fresh blueberries, red berry emulsion and dried blueberries and raspberries;

Limpiabocas Estacional
- A palate cleanser where again was asked to determine the ingredients. It was a basil, mint & parsley granita served with a citrus emulsion, green apple pannacotta, celery (looked like thin slices of onion) and bouncy pieces of cucumber. Overall sweet & refreshing;

Buñuelo, Papelon
- Yucca potato that acted like Greek loukoumades with a bready wheat middle and mild crisp shell. Two icecreams of soft sugar and delicious arroz con leche (rice pudding) flavours accompanied.

Finally petit four of peanut brittle, biscuit with dulce de leche and a small piece of meringue finished the procession.

After many months since the last fine dining meal, it was nice to briefly return to this realm. I couldn't say it was the best meal I've had but it certainly a creative tour around Argentina with dishes I could never make from ingredients I could never access, and that's something I'm happy to pay for. I had hoped there would be more "meats" as such and the dishes that showcased this - llama, prawn, hare - worked exceptionally. If you add white salmon and dorado I suppose 5 out of 9 for meats isn't a low ratio to complain about.

Coffee Town, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Even though I don't drink coffee, being from Melbourne means I am familiar with the coffee snobbery that goes on (and have lived in Canberra where the 2015 barista world champion has his cafes including Cupping Room). After horrible coffee in Santiago and Patagonia, I would curious to know how the reputed new formation of coffee and cafe culture in BA would be.

Coffee Town is conveniently located in San Telmo market, where the other attractions of Nuestro Parrilla, the Sunday fair and general San Telmo-ness co-exists.

They have a list of beans from all over the world and a variety of preparations you can order. Alternatively they are very proud of their espresso which uses 3 different beans around South America. Both the Honey Press (Costa Rica) by Clever process (ARS110) and the espresso latte were smooth and excellent with no bitterness.

I had an ice coffee (ARS80) which was their espresso coffee with added ice and oddly an orange slice. It was strange. Perhaps they could make an espresso martini for me next time.

Hierbabuena, Buenos Aires 11-2016

In a meat-laden capital, cafe and health-driven culture with emphasis on food intolerances and preferences is quite unique. It felt right at home in Melbourne to be in Hierbabuena with their adjacent deli and store. The menus are there to serve everyone - carnivores, herbivores, vegans, GFs etc.

The complimentary starter of eggplant had a vinegar taste, seated in oil and topped with alfalfa. It was a special start to the meal and refreshing under the sun. 

There's a large range of juices and smoothies to suit all occasions. It was tough to decide between ingredients such as acai, figs, pomelo and ginger. Natural Coconut (coconut milk, mango, passionfruit, ginger) ARS115 was a bit tart with minimal ginger and Antioxidant (freshly squeezed orange juice, soy milk, acai, blueberry, banana) ARS80 was light, very berry and sweet. It was clear the drinks were freshly and expertly made. Separation occurred but was easy to correct with pouring or a swirl. I would have preferred them a little thicker (maybe yogurt or more milk) but no real complaints.

Eventually the direct heat became too much and so it was lucky there were seats inside still available.

- Coconut Rice Salad (basmati rice, yamani brown rice, quinoa, avocado, lime, dried fruit, coconut milk, walnuts, raisins & grapes, Spanish onion, coriander) ARS 195 - a delicious mix of textures and flavours (sweet, tangy, crunchy, soft, chewy) that reminds me of the Hellenic Republic grain salad. A very strong lime sourness was pervasive which I enjoyed but other people might less so;
- Artichoke Pie (artichoke hearts, leek, feta, sage, quinoa & cardamom, mascarpone with salad of watercress & rocket) ARS215 - I should know by now that "pie" in Argentina is not a traditional pie in the sense I know. This was basically a quiche which was fine albeit I'm not a fan of quiche generally. 

The waiter suggested the artichoke pie to me over the avocado gnocchi - I'd certainly go with the gnocchi next time (the ingredients mean the flavour is probably similar to the coconut rice salad - avocado, ricotta, lime, Spanish onion, coconut milk, dates, toasted almonds) so perhaps that's why I would like it more.

It's a relatively expensive place for a meal and drink. I suppose it is offset by eating a healthy and tasty meat-free meal in a city with extremely limited options as such. There are many great looking choices and each essentially guilt-free. After the meal, it is nice to swing through the deli to pick up some nice looking breads or spreads including some Patagonian jams.

El Desnivel, Buenos Aires 11-2016

Of all the many many Buenos Aires food places, it was difficult to limit it to a reasonable list. The Eater list ( certainly did help but given many places are so spread out, eventually it came down to much transport (taxi/bus/train) or laziness. Lazy prevailed.

Finding food close to San Telmo isn't difficult, but in such a big city finding recurring recommended places is. Even though there are quite a few around that by walking past would seem to be completely fine, I had read a little about Desnivel as a decent parrilla and not overly expensive even though it hadn't made my final list. I'd been to Nuestro Parrilla and La Brigada was the other locally but probably a bit too pricey and showy for that night. The aroma down Defensa wafting from Desnivel made it likely a fine choice.

As with many places, there is a large grill over charcoal where the magic happens.

- Provoleta especial ARS99 - this magical piece of circular cheese with moderate saltiness and firm crisp melted peaks was covered with grilled red pepper and (nice, fatty and overall unnecessary) bacon. Fantastic with bread and salad;
- Bife de chorizo ARS195 - I asked for rare ("muy jugoso") and ended up with very medium on one side (chewy), a little under medium on the other side (quite tender). The beef itself tasted fine albeit not different to other good quality steaks;
- 1/4 Pollo ARS95 - drumstick and thigh cooked perfectly and so soft and juicy;
- Ensalada completa ARS74 - lots of ingredients and self-serve EVOO and balsamic.

The chimichurri was very zesty with a light hit of chilli and loads of parsley and garlic. Delicious to swathe the beef through it. I was a little disappointed in the beef overall - but looking forward to Don Julio where I expect them to get the rare perfect for me. A table nearby received a very rare steak and the staff were happy to recook it further. I'll have to emphasise the rareness more next time.