Bluer Still

2006.May.23 Tuesday · 2 comments

in Restaurants

Karie’s - lomo sandwichAzul – A bit on the “dining scene” in Azul. First, as I noted in the last post, the city closes up for siesta in the afternoon. That’s a problem when your bus gets in at 1:30 and you still have to drop by your hotel and check-in. Especially when you don’t know about the whole siesta thing. After half an hour of wandering, we’d found a small ice cream parlor open, a barber shop, and finally, a bar/cafe that was empty, but the proprietress said we could come in and she’d make something. The offerings were a hamburger or a lomo sandwich, we opted for the latter, which were actually quite good, if a bit small and maybe a trifle oversalted, and we ended up eating two apiece. Not that we had other choices, but it was a surprise when the bill came to find that the lomo sandwiches were 9 pesos each, especially given their size, which is about double the cost back in the Capital. And, indeed, when we mentioned it to our local friends later, they laughed and said, “oh, you must have eaten at Karie’s (San Martin 550), it’s the biggest rip-off in town!” Still, it was the only place to eat during siesta that we found, and it’s not like for four sandwiches and a couple of sodas that $13 is some outrageous sum.

La Marca de Burgos - fiambres and breadThe same friend who had recommended our hotel had said that if it was still open, remembering from times past when he used to visit the town, we would find a good meal at La Marca de Burgos, Maipú 663. I will say that the place is beautifully appointed and very comfortable. An interesting mix of rustic touches like a vaulted brick ceiling and huge wooden beams, with elegant white and burgundy tablecloths, fine plate and glassware, and friendly, fairly efficient and correct service. Most of the folk dining were obviously both locals and regulars, there was much stopping and visiting at tables as each party entered, plus the staff seemed to know a good percentage of the diners.

The menu is pretty classic Argentine dishes, its most interesting feature being a variety of sauces available for either the parrilla grilled lomo or chicken. Sauces! Some of those Capital restaurants should take a page out of La Marca’s book. La Marca de Burgos - pollo a la naranjaThey should, however, execute them a bit better. We started with a decent selection of fiambres to share. For our main courses Henry went for a favorite, chicken in orange sauce, which unfortunately was a gloppy mess of gooey sauce atop a chicken breast and wing, served with passable fries. I ordered the lomo a la pimienta negra, or black-pepper steak. The meat was cooked completely well done and dried out, despite being ordered rare, and the sauce consisted of another sort of gooey gravy packed with dozens and dozens of whole black peppercorns that had clearly been added pretty much last minute. It was accompanied by good papas a la crema, rich and nicely browned. La Marca de Burgos - lomo a pimienta negraToo much use of cornstarch as a thickener is my first criticism, and too much sauce overall, for both dishes. For the peppercorns – crack them, and crust the steak so that they cook a bit! I hate to be too picky, especially when I’m not eating in some sort of “dining capital”, but my worry was clearly misplaced – when the waiter came to clear the dishes (and we had eaten everything, despite the flaws), his question was, “did you enjoy the food or was it just sort of okay?” That tells you that they know there’s a problem in the kitchen. Where’s Gordon Ramsay when he’s needed? Oh, and by the way – this whole dinner, along with a glass of quite good Benedetti Bonarda 2004 (I have to admit I was impressed when the waiter brought the bottle, unopened, to the table, showed me the label, and offered me a taste before pouring the glass – another point that restaurants back in BsAs ought to take note of!), two bottles of water, and two cups of tea, cost only a couple of pesos more than our lunchtime sandwiches.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

asadoarg May 23, 2006 at 19:56

Whoa what kind of lomito is that?

dan May 23, 2006 at 23:06

It was clearly a couple of maybe 3-ounce portions cut from a larger lomo. Truthfully, both given how badly cooked it was, it was plenty. I also don’t tend to eat much more than that at a sitting, even with the huge steaks we’re used to getting here in the capital – but I am used to having some to take home for the next day!

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