Review: One Table at HG

HG's One Table It’s a pretty fair assessment to say that Buenos Aires has grown in leaps and bounds in the gastronomic sense in the past year or so. Pop-ups, food truck(s), closed doors, supper clubs, cook-offs, themed tours … the list goes on. It might seem intimidating to a greenhorn when it comes to upping the ante, but the hard hitters know what’s up. Enter Hernán Gipponi, chef of the eponymous restaurant at the hip Fierro Hotel Boutique in Palermo Hollywood. HG has been dishing out one of the city’s best brunches for quite some time, not to mention their gourmet tasting dinners and festive garden “Thank Fierro It’s Friday” happy hours.

My favorite wall Enter a new concept, one that brings together the best of the best: Gourmet dishes, in a familiar and communal setting, with a unique touch that sets it apart from the rest. Enter One Table. HG’s cure for even the worst case of the Mondays (dinners are only hosted one night a week) will satisfy anyone from the most demanding of palates to those just looking for something new on the scene.

Wino Seats around this table are limited, so you’d be a fool not to reserve your spot. Go alone, go with friends … go with an open mind and obviously an empty stomach. The idea is for the food to be shared among the diners in a casual and deconstructed way, which is a nice contrast of the high-level food you’re about to shovel into your gullet.

One Table Menu signedThe menu – which changes constantly and in our case was a staggering nine courses – is hand written and signed by Hernán himself, and wines are paired accordingly (and served generously). Dishes are developed with what’s in season (claro) and feature the best of what the local market has to offer.

HG and team at work Perhaps the best part of the whole experience is watching Hernán and his skilled kitchen team prep, plate and serve the dishes tableside as they come out. Hell, he even finished cooking the hare on the table – a little smoky, but whatever, I’ll take it. As someone who has always envied those who can edge out their space in that realm of the food industry, it was fascinating to watch them work as such a well-oiled machine.

Heart + Beans + MustardOf all the food we were served, it’s hard to choose a favorite. I love that HG always manages to sneak a huevo a baja temperatura in the mix, though the steak tartare and the heart (!!) with beans and mustard was a real treat. By the time the arroz bomba and liebre rolled around, I was in need of an auxiliary stomach to help me out. Everything was so delicious, so abundant, so full of love. Really. You could taste the love on the plate. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Fish with peas, potatoes and peppersAfter a month-long and much-needed hiatus, One Table is back with a vengeance starting next Monday, August 12. Hurry up and make your res and get ready for one of BA’s best new dining experiences.

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HG – Hernán Gipponi at the Fierro Hotel Boutique
Soler 5862, Palermo Hollywood
One Table Dinners – Hosted on select Mondays, by reservation only
3220-6800

Finishing touches on the hare

Review: Sunday Brunch at Farinelli

Sunday Brunch at FarinelliAh, brunch. Buenos Aires hasn’t always done it right, but we’re getting there. After months of neighbors (or, just myself) clamoring for a little Sunday loving in Retiro, Farinelli at Arroyo has just started a brand-spankin’ new Brunch Extravaganza – and I gotta say, it’s pretty damn amazing.

The location is great: A bright, sunny corner of quiet Retiro with giant windows that are ideal for people-watching / stalking while you sit down and get settled. I like some booth action, but there are large tables in the middle that accommodate groups a bit better, though once the place is packed there isn’t a lot of room to spare. Fresh blooms from Florería Atlántico adorn the countertops and the day’s spread of fresh goodies – fruit salad, croissants, and the Bloody Mary bar (score!) – are poised to make your mouth water.

Brunch it upThe menu itself covers a nice range of brunch classics. French Toast, pancakes and waffles will satisfy those in need of a serious carb fix, while protein freaks will love the array of eggs (fried, scrambled, omelet) and sides that can be mixed and matched. One of the best bits? Real bacon, folks. Hallelujah praise the lawd. If you’re more in the mood for the “unch” side of brunch, there’s a bacon cheeseburger, a shrimp “burger” and a few sandwiches to keep you happy as well. It’s worth mentioning they’ve got Tabasco and maple syrup in spades. No more pancakes & honey for you.

Menu With all this food, you’re going to need to wash it down with something fabulous. You’re in luck, as the cocktails are from next-door neighbor Florería Atlántico (BFFs) and are the perfect libation for the occasion. If it’s early, order the Bloody Mary, and if you’re rolling in a bit later in the day, an Aperol Spritz will not let you down. There is also a short but quality list of wines available if you want to keep it classy.

Bar at the ready Funnily enough, ours was the first ever table to inaugurate this new brunch event, so I awkwardly screamed at everyone working there “FELIZ BRUNCH!” like I was some kind of zany neighborhood cheerleader. Hey, it’s a big deal. Brunch has made it to my ‘hood and I’m going to celebrate! Service was great – to be honest, much friendlier than usual and super efficient. Our dessert was delayed quite a bit and they were kind enough to take it off the check, something unexpected and not typical for BA customer service.

Bacon Cheeseburger DSC_0986 DSC_0987And the food? Yum city, I tell ya. Perfectly cooked fried eggs, nice crispy bacon, and that cheeseburger was one of the best I’ve had in the city. The fries were not piping hot, which I thought was strange, but I’ll chalk it up to first day jitters and the fact that they probably don’t have the timing down yet. Everything was fresh, well-seasoned and overall fabulous.

So here’s the deal: This Sunday funday brouhaha takes place from 11am-4pm only, with reservations available only for the 1pm time slot. It was pretty quiet when we arrived (11:15, hello, I was raised to be punctual), but by the time mid-day rolled around things were poppin’. Let’s not even mention the scene at 3pm – Tables bursting with hipsters and families alike, and sad people outside being told that they couldn’t be guaranteed a table before things wound down.

Farinelli ArroyoIf that isn’t a (good) sign of things to come, I don’t know what is. Welcome to the barrio (again), Farinelli, we’re so very glad to have you here.

Farinelli
Arroyo 900, Retiro
Monday-Saturday 8am-8pm
Sunday Brunch 11am-4pm
Reservations recommended for Brunch
4328-7998

Rockstar of the day

Review: Delhi Masala

Delhi Masala Anyone that knows me knows that I have a serious addiction to Indian food. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve craved spicy, aromatic curries and fluffy basmati rice. My first stop en route home from the airport once I touch down on US soil is our local Indian restaurant that I’ve been going to since I was in elementary school. (Side note: The owner’s children are probably going to some pretty fancy colleges thanks to my dedicated investment in their business. Moving on.)

Therefore, moving to Buenos Aires was a shock in the sense that the availability of Indian restaurants went from what felt like infinity to just a handful. Way back in 2007 I remember going to Tandoor on its first night in business, actually. Good times. Since then, slowly but surely there has been steady growth of classic, no-frills and authentic curry spots that have been able to sate the beast within me, also known as my murderous desire to eat Indian on a weekly basis. Warning: Indian food does not photograph well (duh). Sorry I’m not sorry.

Naan-senseLiving just one block away from Bengal, I was very spoiled to become close with the head chef there; he’d always indulge my obsession with spice and make sure my dish was always “nivel extranjero” instead of “nivel porteño.” He’s a good man. What makes him an AWESOME man is that in recent years he’s branched out and opened up several restaurants of his own – all thanks to the help of his family members that he brings over from India to help run the show. I’m hoping they’ll adopt me one day.

This is a lot of build up for one lousy review, but it was necessary. Delhi Masala, located right in the heart of hippie dippie San Telmo nightlife, is pretty much the only place I’ll go for a curry these days. An incredible range of dishes (so far they’re the only ones who do mattar paneer … and extremely well), the typical tacky-kitsch atmosphere of bright overhead lights and lots of little elephants strung everywhere and overall authentic flavors make this my favorite Indian restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Mattar Paneer You can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu, but if you’re really hungry I would skip the appetizers and head for the mains (the samosas are quite good though). Dal, prawn tikka masala, mattar paneer, aloo gobi, vindaloo, korma … I have to stop myself before I drool all over everything. Great range of vegetarian dishes and a whole section dedicated to briyani. Yay! Sopping up those sauces with hot buttery naan is so delicious it should be illegal. Actually, I’d totally brave the wilds of Fuerte Apache or some other scary barrio if it meant I could get my hands on whatever magic is coming out of Mohammed’s kitchen. True story. Portions are generous, waiters understand the diners’ need for truly spicy food, and they even offer house-brewed cerveza to wash it all down. Remember that in BA, you have to order the rice separately from you main dish – kind of a drag but not the biggest deal.

Before you pass out in a heavenly food coma, try to give dessert a whirl. The pistachio ice cream is super rich and at the same time refreshing, though you might need an Uvasal after all is said and done if you’re anything like me. (For clarity: If you’re anything like me you will order three mains between two people and stuff yourselves to the brim with naan and basmati rice just for good measure. So basically you probably have more self control and better judgment than I do.)

The best bit of all of this? Delhi Masala accepts Club La Nación meaning your meal will be at least 20% cheaper every night of the week – 50% off on Tuesdays! Who doesn’t love a bargain in this inflation-ridden town? Just me? Don’t be shy. Pinching pennies is the new extravagance. Or not?

No matter the day of the week, the place tends to fill up, so either head there on the earlier end or call ahead to reserve if you want to be sure. They also do take out if you prefer to smother yourself in tikka masala in the privacy of your own home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No judgment here.

So if you’ve been craving a good curry and haven’t found the right spot, are looking for a new place, or have never even had Indian food because you were raised in a barn … Mosey on down to Delhi Masala and prepare for a camino de ida. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Delhi Masala
Defensa 714, San Telmo
Open for Lunch & Dinner
4300-3790
Discount with Club La Nación
Take Out & Delivery

Final Photo Credit: Via Resto 

Review: BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant

(Quick note before you get to the good stuff: This post was supposed to go live more than a month ago, before I fell off the face of the Earth – OK, the southern hemisphere – and was out of town for a nice stretch. Not that any of this really matters to you, of course, but take this small message as proof that I do indeed still exist.)

BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant I feel like a broken record. The Retiro Renaissance™ (I just did that) continues to take Buenos Aires by storm, and the (now not-so) newest contender on the stage just happens to be located on my tiny little street on the ground floor of the posh Quartier residential/office building mere steps from Av. del Libertador. BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant is the chic big sister of next door’s Grand Café which opened up several months ago. Brainchild of the dream team behind Gran Bar Danzón, Sucre, Sanbenito (RIP) and even some spots in Brazil, BASA had all of us waiting anxiously for its debut.

Inside BASA If you’re familiar with Danzón or Sucre, BASA’s industrial-hip interior will seem happily familiar to you. Though located technically underground, the restaurant and bar area are spacious, inviting and not at all claustrophobic. The bar itself is massive, taking up the whole back wall and proudly showing off an array of booze and cocktail tools and treats.

Ludo's G&THead barman Ludovico De Biaggi knows what he’s doing: at just 23, he has already logged nearly a decade behind the bar (child protection groups, not to worry, he started off practicing alongside guru Inés de los Santos, but strictly with non-alcoholic delights while his mom was busy working in Danzón’s office. Yep, it’s a family affair.). Ludo’s extreme dedication (watch him make your drink and you’ll realize he is more focused on that task than you ever were on anything, ever) results in some amazing cocktails – dare I say, his take on my favorite G&T surpasses that of Florería Atlántico’s famed Tato, and his Smoky Rusty Nail is simply exquisite. Take advantage of his creativity and let him whip something up off-menu for you, if you’re lucky.

Arroz negro at BASAIf the drinks are fabulous, the food is beyond. Try not to fill up on the amazing, fresh-baked bread that is brought out before you order, something easier said than done. The menu is pretty extensive, with creative small plates and appetizers that are best shared – the fritto misto and the sartén de hongos are the stuff dreams are made of. Main courses include a variety of meat, pasta and fish dishes joined by a variety of sides. You can’t go wrong with the grilled fish of the day and a simply dressed green salad, but if you want to do it up, the arroz negro with shellfish and squid ink is most likely infused with a little bit of heaven. Although, all of this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that head Chef Julieta Oriolo is the one orchestrating this behind the scenes. The wine list is on the pricey side, but has tons of options, and the desserts are a perfect way to end your meal (check out the profiteroles).

BASA Service is professional (though it’s been clear that some servers know more than others about how to work in a higher-end restaurant), and you’ll notice that one of the owners and/or managers is never far from the action – speaking directly to the legacy that Patricia and Luís have spent more than a decade constructing.

Cocktail wisdom at BASABASA hosts a daily happy hour with drink specials and a lively atmosphere for an area that has previously been quiet for so long. Before, you’d have to either brave the mess that is Reconquista just to have a beer after leaving the office or suffer in silence, but now we can all let out a collective sigh of happy relief knowing that our newest neighborhood haunt raises the bar (pun not really intended) significantly. The best part is knowing after a great night stuffing myself to the gills, I’m half a block from home. Retiro, I love you.

BASA Buenos Aires BASA Basement Bar & Restaurant
Basavilbaso 1328 – Retiro
4893-9444
Lunch, Happy Hour & Dinner
Reservations recommended

Review: Cafe Crespin

Cafe Crespin - Vicente LopezIs there anything better than waking up on a sunny Saturday and meeting your friends for a delicious breakfast? Perhaps, if you add a nice leisurely bike ride along the river to the mix, topped off with a gooey cinnamon bun and a fresh licuado de maracuyá. Pedaling outside of BA’s city limits and into nearby Vicente López, you’ll be rewarded with the goodies of Cafe Crespin, without the long lines and insanity of its Villa Crespo HQ.

Cafe Crespin - V Lopez Tucked away, unassuming, just half a block from a new-ish promenade along the river (overflowing with rollerbladers in spandex, whoa), Cafe Crespin in Zona Norte is truly a gem. Tables dot the sidewalk and the inside is just as welcoming and cozy. After you’ve spent the past hour or so whizzing past the Lagos de Palermo, the Estadio Monumental, and Parque de los Niños, you will spend a few thrilling moments along the highway (don’t tell mom) before ducking into the green oasis that is the “costanera” of Vicente López.

Pedal on for just a few more minutes, keeping your eyes on the prize – a big rewarding breakfast that will help you reponer energías and lull you toward a nap in the sunshine.

We ordered a mix of everything – muffins, French toast, cinnamon roll, bagel with lox and cream cheese – you know, because we had just done a lot of exercise. Of course. Sipping our respective licuados while we waited was an ideal way to cool down; the flavors were bright and fresh, nothing artificial, just … yum.

French Toast at Cafe Crespin Since I’m a glutton for carbs, I ordered both the bagel and the cinnamon roll. Hello, heaven/obesity. Both were amazing – as we know, good bagels are hard to come by in this town – but I think the cinnamon roll took home first prize. Gooey and flaky, with the perfect icing on top and just enough crunch … I could have eaten several more of these and am planning to in the not so distant future.

Cinnamon Roll at Cafe Crespin The French toast was also surprisingly good – just one bite and I was brought back to childhood mornings with my mom at the stove. Served alongside scrambled eggs and bacon, this dish is not for the faint of heart.

Service is friendly and attentive without being too overbearing, which is what you want when you’re lounging in the sun, chatting with friends and in absolutely no rush at all.

Sunshine at Cafe Crespin The verdict? If you’ve been to the original Crespin, or have heard raves about it but have serious fiaca when it comes to waiting for ages to get a table, or are just looking for a new breakfast / cafe spot beyond your typical “bubble” – you’d be missing out big time if you didn’t cross the border and visit CCVL (that is the new abbrev, obvi. Don’t worry, I’ll show myself out).

Cafe Crespin
Hipólito Yrigoyen 477 – Vicente López, Zona Norte
4796-0119
Tuesday – Friday, 8am-8pm / Saturdays 9am-8pm / Sundays 12pm-7pm
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