You can grill on anything, … When I was traveling around the world researching ‘The Barbecue! Bible,’ I saw people grilling in hubcaps, and the barbecue was great.”
– Steven Raichlen, Author
Buenos Aires – Our friend Jim, from Minnesota, comes down to BsAs for regular visits. He loves the place, and he loves a good barbecue – in fact, he loved the Argentine style of grilling so much that he built himself a parrilla at his ski lodge. A couple of times during the last year, he’s mentioned a place that he particularly likes here, always sort of in an off-the-cuff way, and I made a mental note to get there one of these days, but hadn’t done so. There are so many places for a steak in this town, and we have a couple we really like within a couple of block walk of the house, that we rarely go to check out a new parrilla. In fact, we rarely eat at a steak house, you might have noted – much as I like a steak, unlike many locals, and most visitors, it’s not my first choice for a meal. I know, heresy and all that.
And then, in his last e-mail, Jim, still apparently thinking that his find needed to be checked out, offered to pick up the tab for us to have dinner – and promptly did so, in advance, via our little “donate” button (and extra too – thank you Jim!). Okay, okay, I can take a hint… eventually. So off we went the other night to Barbacoa, Pasaje Bollini 2133, 4805-8230, and it’s right here in Barrio Norte – I mean, we could walk there in ten minutes… and it’s on one of my favorite little streets, a narrow, two block long cobblestone alleyway, with pretty little buildings, and several restaurants which I keep thinking I ought to check out just because of their location…
I know, I think, why he likes the place. It’s warm and friendly from the moment you walk in. We were early – 8:30 – and only the second customers through the door – but it was a Sunday, so we figured it would fill earlier than normal, and while it didn’t fill, it wasn’t long before there were a dozen other tables seated. The room is inviting, with various shades of orange and red, exposed brick, good lighting, good ventilation, and bottles of wine everywhere. I think they’ve filled every nook and cranny in the place with wine, and they’ve got a decent and well priced list. Nothing really out of the ordinary, but a wide selection of the more usual brands. The hostess was charming, our waitress was fun, it was, simply, a nice place to relax and enjoy dinner.
Now, in terms of the food, I’m going to have to say that it wasn’t anything special. It was good quality, well prepared, parrilla food. We sampled a chorizo – actually quite good; sweetbreads – just okay; a half bife de chorizo – good but a trifle chewy; and very good brochet de lomo (and the first time I’ve ever seen a waitress/waiter here take the time to remove the brochette from the skewer for us, rather than leaving us to handle the hot piece of metal and trying to slide the goodies off of it; and an okay grilled red pepper – actually the pepper was grilled perfectly, but there was way too much raw garlic atop, but that was easy to push to the side. The only disappointment was the provoleta – I don’t know why, but it was barely warm, pretty much just a solid piece of cheese – I have this feeling that it was ready before the other appetizers and it sat, cooling, until they were ready – I like my provoleta a little more… melty… We had a very good bottle of Escorihuela Gascon Malbec Rosaé to go with it all (Henry’s not big on red wines, so we compromise on roses…).
The place is a decent value too, with prices that are about average for the neighborhood. And it is on that cool little street… I can see going back now and again.