Bite Marks #54

2018.Jan.29 Monday · 0 comments

in Restaurants

A slightly different take on Bite Marks this time around, with a group of updates to past reviews of places that it’s been awhile since I’ve either been, or at least written about.

 

We’ll kick off at Tea Connection, Uriburu 1617, Recoleta – just down the street from us. It’s a place we drop into regularly for a pot of tea, or one of their fruit juice blends, or sometimes, just to use the internet when ours is down. Way back in May of 2007, when this place opened, it was a gamble by the owners that locals would take to a tea-focused shop as well as the plethora of cafés in town. Not only did they, but they did so with enough gusto that there are now a dozen locations around the city with more to come. The food has changed radically over time too, it’s no longer just flatbread sandwiches and vegetable tarts and some scones, but a full on menu that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

Now, I’m going to semi-trash this one dish. No, actually not, because it was perfectly acceptable corn chips and an excellent guacamole (136 pesos). But somehow, somewhere, in the past, the Argentine gastronomic world came to call what we might call “chips and dip” as nachos. Time and again I’ve heard from visitors that they went into some place and ordered up some nachos and found themselves confronted with nothing more than some tortilla chips and some kind of sauce or dip for it. Argentine friends… those ain’t no nachosNachos are, well, these:

…which are respectively the nachos at Kansas and Che Taco. Nachos come piping hot out of the oven, tortilla chips covered in gooey, melted cheese, usually more than one kind, and chilies. That’s at its most basic. Variations exist, and most commonly include refried beans, and/or spiced ground beef, or both, and the whole thing is most often topped off with sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Chips and dip are tasty, but they’re chips and dip, not nachos. Point made?

While I haven’t put time into the search (three past posts, here, here, and here) in awhile, now and again I like to try an interesting sounding veggie burger. Tea Connection’s portobello and quinua burger is really good, and topped with cheese, pickles, lettuce, and roasted bell peppers, it’s a winner. So are the oven baked fries (too few of them though) accompanied by housemade ketchup. (203 pesos)

The Yo soy pollo turns out to be a play on words, and not quite what we were expecting. Literally, in Spanish, it means “I am a chicken”, but the inter-language play on the word “soy” means this turns out to be a pretty heavily soy sauce laden rice bowl with some chopped bits of chicken and vegetables in it. Not exactly what was described on the menu, which sounded more like a grilled chicken breast accompanied by a vegetable fried rice. (248 pesos)


 

A trio of years on, a relook at Eretz, Malabia 1583, Palermo, and their take on Israeli classics. Like everywhere else, things have gotten more expensive, but… a bit of sticker shock I have to admit on a recent visit. I like that they’ve expanded their selection of pickled vegetables on the table, and they made for a great accompaniment to our meal when Steven and I deviated from our usual Sunday Korea/China-town ventures and went Middle Eastern.

The quartet of appetizers that come in the most basic of their picadas is amazingly good – with excellent hummus, falafel, fried eggplant, and stuffed grape leaves. The four mini-pita breads in the basket weren’t nearly enough to envelope all this goodness, and we did order another round of them, thankfully at no upcharge. 400 pesos feels a little high for this, but then again, these days, that’s a mere $20, and it’s a good amount of food. The per person amount on that gets better as you order the more elaborate picadas that have more selections, and quantity for more people, as well.

The shawarma has changed. It used to be a beef and lamb combo atop thin lavash style bread, and accompanied by hummus, babaganoush, and cucumber salad. Now, it’s more pita bread on the side (I’d have liked the thinner bread, because by this point in the meal, we were simply filling up on pita!), it’s a blend of chicken and lamb, and it’s accompanied by fried eggplant, and a tomato-cucumber salad. The hot sauce has changed from a fiery green zhug, to a milder, though still with a kick, harissa. From a brief exchange with the chef, I gather I might have been one of the few who could handle the heat level of the former. While the price has gone from 180 pesos to 390, most of that is simply due to the peso devaluation that happened in the interim, where the peso’s value pretty much dropped by half. Still, sticker shock for a shawarma platter, delicious as it is.


 

I first reviewed Damblee, Av. Rivadavia 3401, Once, back in September of 2007, when a friend took me there for my birthday. It’s been, since, one of my favorite places in town for Mediterranean style seafood, and we manage to get back there roughly once every year or so. There are just so many other places to try, you know? But I always know it’s there, and send people regularly. I re-reviewed the place to even better notes, four years later when they moved to this address from across the street.

A new friend in town, Bob, who is, ostensibly looking to live here for part of each year, and I, headed there on a recent lunch venture. We started off sharing a platter of sepia, or cuttlefish, in a salsa verde. I rarely see cuttlefish on a menu here, and these were tender, flavorful, and the sauce was just dead on. I ended up mopping up most of it with bread it was so good.

He went simple – a couple of grilled fillets of chernia, a type of sea bass, accompanied by a pretty elaborate mixed salad.

And, as always, there are interesting off-the-menu specials, and I couldn’t resist the swordfish with a tomato and basil saute accompanied by simple boiled potatoes.

Yum all around! I can’t tell you exact prices, as Bob grabbed up the check and treated me to lunch (Thanks again!), but as a general note, I’d venture that all three of these plates hovered somewhere in the 300-400 pesos range, so basically, $15-20. Not cheap, but for the quality of seafood cooking, a great deal.


 

I think that’s enough for this time around…

Oh heck, let’s just throw in a recent class that we did here at Casa S – a young couple just moved here from Iceland who wanted to learn to make empanadas, alfajores, and cheese. We ended up making basic ricotta, taking half of it and making a classic local empanada with panceta (bacon) and dried plums; and taking the other half and making cream cheese. For that batch, given that I’ve not seen any Argentine empanadas employing cream cheese, I went with a Mexican style one blending the cheese with bitter greens and chilies. Both turned out great, as did the alfajores!

Okay, that’s really it for this time around.

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