The HG restaurant at the Fierro Hotel in Palermo Hollywood is a little gem of gastro-goodness. Many a hungry panza and food blogger before me have waxed poetic on its virtues – be it a weekday lunch, Sunday brunch, or a fancy Friday night dinner. Last week I finally had the chance to give the brunch a whirl for myself, and I’ve gotta say, if you haven’t been yet, reserve a table for this weekend. For the price, you can’t eat as well anywhere in Buenos Aires.
Brunch in Buenos Aires. Le sigh. Few places have gotten it right, and thankfully we can add HG at the Fierro to the list. Don’t expect a greasy plate of sunny-side up eggs and bacon (mmm, bacon) though, this is kind of like brunch’s serious/foodie big brother. And that’s what makes it so damn good.
We arrived on a rainy Sunday, just on time for our 12pm reservation. Despite having received an e-mail confirmation, our name wasn’t on the list. Kind of weird, but since it was on the early side (the place was empty) it wasn’t an issue.
After being read the menu, we gave the waiter our drink orders (coffee or tea, water, orange juice, and a little shot of green apple/celery juice), anxiously awaited the first course. The little fruit bowl and yogurt parfait were a nice way to ease into the affair, although we ran a risk of filling up just on drinks alone. So much liquid! The little juice shot was quite good and I was glad that I could order green tea without any issue.
Then came the bread basket. Hellooooooo gorgeous. Warm, gooey medialunas and other amazeballs fresh breads were placed before us. It took a lot of self-restraint not to scarf down all the medialunas, but only because I knew that we were in for a marathon of eating up ahead.
After sufficiently lining our stomachs with sugary carbohydrates, the waiter brought out our Bloody Mary “shot.” It was almost big enough to count as a real drink, and it was pretty good. Luckily my brunch-mate isn’t a fan of Bloodys so I got to chug down two. Score!
The second course was a poached egg atop mashed potato and served with sauteed mushrooms. Simple but delicious. I love good earthy ‘shrooms and these added a nice, rich depth to what is otherwise a simple dish. Mixing the yolk with the potato gave it a nice thick texture, too. Just enough without being too heavy or greasy.
The next plate of joy placed before us was a simple langostino, cooked to perfection and served with a sweet maracuyá sauce. I loved the crunch and flavor the sesame seeds added, and though the sauce was a little sweet, overall I was about to lick the plate clean.
After the shrimpfest we were served a big bowl of rabas. Now, I love rabas as much as the next girl, but of all the dishes this was our least favorite. I think our waiter forgot to bring us some dipping sauce (we later saw other tables dippin’ away), which would have made a difference. And while the rabas had a bit of lemon zest sprinkled on top, lemon juice would have been killer. Unfortunately by the time he brought out lime(?) wedges, we had eaten almost all of our little batter-fried rings.
Ok, I need a moment. The next course was by far my favorite, in a way where I was ready to make inappropriate noises at the table to express my joy and satisfaction. We don’t remember being told about this dish when the waiter read us the menu, so maybe that added to our happy surprise.
Behold. Sardines (or maybe anchovies? Yikes, can’t remember) prepared in the most perfect way – marinated like crazy and cooked with a little oil, green onion and the slightest hint of hot pepper. HELLO, foodgasm. The texture was incredible – kind of like velvet – and the tangy flavor was salty without being overbearing. I had a hard time showing restraint and was glad when my brunch buddy let me have his share.
Feel like you need a break? There are still three more courses to go. The portions are pretty spot-on though, filling without being a real bomba in the tumtum. However, I will say that having just one waiter/manager and one busboy to manage the brunch was cutting it close – once the room filled up with other groups, the wait times between each course grew noticeably.
The entraña was nice and medium-rare, and the carrot puree was bright and refreshing. I loved the little wheat berries when I mixed them with the carrot. A nice little meat morsel before the desserts were brought out.
We were a little confused at the first dessert – it was like some sort of yogurt foam, topped with granola bits, lychee (yum!) and some Colombian fruit thing. The waiter didn’t explain it very well. While we were all a bit reluctant at first, if you mixed everything together to a uniform distribution, it was actually quite good. I loved the lychee and crunch of the sunflower seeds.
Ok, real dessert time. Dense chocolate marquise with a sugar cookie crust. The crust was actually so hard/frozen that it was impossible to crack. After flipping it over, we were able to attack with ease. Very rich, very chocolatey, very sweet. It was good though (I can’t say no to chocolate, natch). I think that some fresh berries would have been a better garnish than the biscotti-esque brownie chunks, but no biggie.
Three hours later, we were full without feeling gross, and had just eaten some of the most delicious food ever. And the price cannot be beat! It’s just AR$100/person, but if you have Club La Nación (basically my savior), there is a 20% discount. Given that all of your drinks are included, it’s a pretty amazing deal. Not to mention that you’re eating some of the most quality ingredients in Buenos Aires. True story.
Maybe you won’t have a standing date with friends at HG for brunch every Sunday (although it would be nice), but it will definitely enter into your rotation as a special spot. Go when you’re not in a rush, when you want to linger and enjoy every course without looking at your watch. I’d say go on the “early” end (12 or so) since it does get quite crowded and goes from “tranqui” to “expat convention 2012″ pretty fast. Try to snag the table next to the glass doors (if it’s not nice enough to eat outside), since you’ll enjoy the most natural light and be tucked away in a little corner.
HG Hernán Gipponi
The Fierro Hotel
Soler 5682 – Palermo Hollywood
Brunch is served every Sunday, by reservation only