“The parrot holds its food for prim consumption as daintily as any debutante, [with] a predilection for pot roast, hashed-brown potatoes, duck skin, butter, hoisin sauce, sesame seed oil, bananas and human thumb.”
– Alexander Theroux, novelist, poet
Los Loros are parrots, in Spanish, but in the local street slang, lunfardo, they’re brave and/or handsome young men. It’s a sort of nightlife term of respect for the sorts of guys who everyone whispers about when they walk into the club, or restaurant. Grudging respect, perhaps, but nonetheless. And, grudging respect, perhaps even a tad more, is what I feel for the restaurant of the same name, Los Loros, Estados Unidos 302 (corner of Balcarce), in San Telmo, 4361-5539.
There’s no question the place is handsome, much like its sibling, Lucky Luciano, both spots owned by Lucky himself (also rather handsome). And it’s a bit brave, going for creative interpretations of local dishes and the use of indigenous ingredients with quite the touch of flair. And there’s even a fair amount of color splashed about, much like a parrot, though this is no imitator.
Let me get the one of the two negatives out of the way with – I was meeting up with a friend, we’d planned on a 12:30 lunch. The place, based on its posted hours, opens at noon. At 12:20, it wasn’t open, though the windows were, and two cooks, a dishwasher and a bartender/waiter were inside. I tapped on the door and asked, and the bartender, semi-politely, informed me that they’d get around to opening when they were ready, and not before. It was around 12:35, my friend not having arrived yet, that the waiter threw open the door and said I could come in. Past that little period, however, everything was delightful, even the waiter’s mood completely changed.
First off, you can’t, especially on a hot day, pass up the selection of a couple of dozen licuados – fruit and vegetable shakes – unlike the usual suspects here in BA, these are not just simply a choice of one or another of a few fruits with too much sugar and either water or milk – these are imaginative combinations of different juices and herbs, and with minimal sweetening – this one, which just blew us away, peach and celery – a combination I’d never have thought of, but which works brilliantly.
Though just referred to as quinoa fritters, these were actually pretty close to a traditional falafel, just made with quinoa instead of chickpeas. Well-spiced, and with a tahini based dipping sauce – delicious!
My luncheon companion opted for the bondiola sandwich (pork shoulder), with roasted meat, sweet pickles and braised red cabbage. While he found the flavors quite good, he felt it was just a bit too greasy. The accompanying house specialty of garlic-thyme steak fries were perfect.
You know I can’t pass up a burger when offered – this one a mix of ground pork shoulder and chorizo sausage that sounded amazing with its caramelized onion and barbecue sauce topping. And, indeed, the burger itself was great, perhaps a touch saltier than I would have liked, but just a touch. The one thing I wasn’t thrilled with was the bun, which was basically a split open small pita bread – within minutes it had turned to mush and fallen apart, leaving me to basically eat the burger with knife and fork or fingers wrapped around the meat, so to speak. The sweet potato fries on the side were… bluntly… horrible. They were dried out, burnt, and tasteless, basically inedible – and it was interesting, I saw the cook (the kitchen is open to the dining room) put them on the plate, look at them, shake her head, start removing them, and then someone else in the kitchen said something to her and she put them back on. Big no no, if you know it’s wrong, and even worse when the customer can see what you’re doing (not that a closed kitchen is an excuse), don’t do it.
Overall, recommended. But I think if I got served those burnt fries again, I’d send ’em back.