Una Experiencía of the Argentine

2013.Sep.09 Monday · 2 comments

in Life, Restaurants

For the last couple of years I’ve been hearing about another restaurant a puertas cerradas that focused on the classics of local cuisine – empanadas and steaks. Originally it was located somewhere near us in Recoleta, but it seemed vague and mysterious, and no one seemed to know a lot about it, just that it was “fun and different”. Then I heard it moved to Palermo and changed format, something more akin to a regular restaurant. Recently one of the guys who runs it contacted me to ask if I’d like to do a little interchange – they came here for dinner one night and we went there for dinner one night. And so, a little write-up for The Argentine Experience, Fitz Roy 2110….

The Argentine Experience

So first off, it’s not a closed door restaurant setup. In a way it is, in that it’s by reservation only, but it’s not hidden away, you can walk in the door and ask about it, for all I know, if they have space available at the tables, you could even join on the spot without a reservation. Apparently about six months ago one of their regular customers offered to financially back them if they wanted to open up a more open space, and here they are in this lovely two story building in the heart of Palermo.

The Argentine Experience

And it really is quite beautiful on the inside, they did a great job. Initially they opened up the bar area to people who wanted to come in and enjoy a wine-based cocktail, something they specialize in, but they found that the crowd they were getting detracted from the ambiance they were trying to create and put a stop to that (I’m picturing the sort of loud, drunk frat boy (and girl) scene that occurs at several of the local expat hangouts). There are two options to participate – come just for dinner, or, the full package, which includes a whole orientation around cocktails and wine.

The Argentine Experience

I was greeted on arrival at 6:15 (so early for BA, and Henry was running late coming from the university) with a Malbec and pisco based cocktail that was delicious, and then awaited the others – for the opening session there were just two more, and they turned out to be a couple who’d been at Casa S a week before! We chatted a bit and then were directed to this table of aromas. Twenty glasses, each with a small scent bottle inside, and given the challenge to identify as many of the smells as we could – all of them being aroma components of classic Argentine wines. The average number correct? Six. Which I hit on directly, the other two got five and seven respectively, so we were right on the money. It’s harder than you’d think! Henry arrived and then we had a bit of a cocktail class – a demonstration of three different wine based cocktails, a tasting of them with little hors d’oeuvres, and then we each got to pick one to have a full sized drink mixed up for us.

The Argentine Experience

Around 7:30 the other guests for the evening who were coming for just the dinner part started arriving – turning out to be five different couples from different parts of the U.S. – they kind of straggled in with the last ones arriving a little after 8 while the rest of us sat around and waited. We were all suited up in aprons and caps – “team building” we were informed. And then we had an empanada making class. A brief talk and demonstration by one of the staff (all in English, as the evenings are, though another staff person gave some help in translating for Henry quietly on the side, and I filled in the rest). Then we each got to make two empanadas – one classic one, and then one free form, creative, whatever shape we wanted – and things ranged from birds to dinosaurs to suns to abstracts. There’s a competition involved in that too, and the dinosaur creator won and got herself some nice little prizes.

The Argentine Experience

The Argentine Experience

And then some of that classic food, their style – mini provoletas and sliced chorizos sauteed up in a mild tomato sauce, along with some fresh bread to start off. And, of course, waiting for our empanadas to bake. Wine started to flow freely as by this point we’d all finished off our cocktails.

The Argentine Experience

And, our empanadas arrived a little bit later on, so we each got to eat our own pair, filled and shaped to our own preferences.

The Argentine Experience

And then the main course – we got a little talk on how to order steak properly in Argentina, and a fun little demonstration of local hand gestures for non-verbal communication, and then we waited some more. And then we were served up tasty little portions of steak along with great mashed potatoes and roasted carrots.

Henry and I had to cut out at this point, we both had early days planned, and by this point it was 10.30 in the evening, I’d been there for over four hours. So we missed out on the mate and alfajores that are the dessert round of things, but I have no doubt it was as entertaining and delicious as the rest.

Overall it is, indeed, a fun and different experience. It does tie up an entire evening, and if there was anything that I would criticize is that there’s a lot of waiting time between things. At us$100 a person it’s pricey if you base it just on the food, but with the whole social dynamic and the way they get everyone interacting, it’s a unique tourist experience, and I’d say that for anyone for whom that price isn’t out of bounds, it’s an enjoyable evening that you’ll long remember. And do the whole thing, don’t skip out on the cocktail and wine part of the evening, the difference in price is minimal (only us$15 less), and you’d lose out on a valuable part of The Argentine Experience.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Miles October 4, 2013 at 21:47

Wow, nice work if you can get it at that (blue dollar) price, though I have to say I had their empanadas recently at an event they catered and they were good, especially the masa. Looked at the website and it is very professional. I wish them luck and hope there are enough tourists prepared to pay $200 for couple to keep them (and my little bed and breakfast) afloat. On the other hand, maybe I’m in the wrong business? I’ve got a dining area for 30, full catering kitchen and parrilla. At these prices I would make as much not having staying guests. Maybe there is demand for a genuine Argentine experience…pig slaughtering and morcilla making on the terrace anyone? A quick game of Pato. How to cry like an Argentina as “el que no llora no mama.” Hmm, suspect I better stick to my knitting!

dan October 5, 2013 at 09:07

Well, if you like the masa, you’re in luck, at least for the dinner we were at they just used pre-made supermarket ones (and said that’s what they normally do), I don’t know if they do something different for their catering, and the fillings that we were given to pack in them were some cooked ground beef, chopped hard-boiled egg, browned onions, raisins, and shredded cheese. I think it’s great that they’re able to get the number of folk they do for their events, and more power to them – makes me wonder though why it seems so much tougher to fill up dinners at 2/3 the price! Gotta be that whole interactive thing, and marketing. Yeah, marketing, I’ve heard that’s a good thing. Maybe I should give it a try.

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