Review: Oviedo

I’m officially entering my period of Seasonal Affective Disoder (aptly known as SAD) due to this extended stretch of gray, foggy days. My body senses this change of seasons and is prepping for hibernation mode, aka, I am eating everything in sight. Last week we went to Oviedo in Barrio Norte, a restaurant I’ve had my eye on since I first got here in 2007 and that is almost universally accepted as one of the best restaurants in BA.

Oviedo is like stepping back in time – it’s sort of what you could imagine Buenos Aires was like 100 years ago (with a heavy Parisian slant, quelle surprise). It doesn’t hurt that everyone else eating dinner is about 60 or older – but that’s fine with me, I love that senior citizens have more flourishing social lives than I do. Situated on the corner of Beruti and Ecuador, the restaurant serves up classic Mediterranean-inspired seafood and pasta dishes. Given that you’ll be shelling out a pretty penny, save it for a visit with family or a special little occasion – though the experience will be worth it.

We arrived on a chilly Friday night and the dining room was already packed. Traditional tight-lipped waiters zipped about the space in a rather efficient, yet taciturn manner. The maitre d’ took his time to greet the regular customers who clearly have a weekly routine going on. Cookbooks and culinary guides spill out of bookshelves, and an elegant hodge-podge of artwork fills the vast wall space. It’s a beautiful and charming restaurant, one that makes you excited to be there.

Between the four of us we ordered two appetizers and four mains. The ceviche wasn’t what I was expecting – I usually prefer that the quality and freshness of the fish shine through rather than be smothered in some kind of sauce – but it was still delicious. The crunch added by the toasted corn kernels was a nice touch. Much more popular were the prawns and baby squid served in a fragrant tomato sauce. I wish there had been more – as we were all fighting over the last bits and sopping up what was left. Very good.

I had been told that if you dine at Oviedo, you have to order fish or seafood, so I went that route for my main course. The catch of the day was sole, served over homemade sweet potato gnocchi and served with sun-dried tomatoes. The pasta was an interesting accompaniment, and I loved the texture it added to the fish. The fish itself was neither phenomenal nor disappointing: I kind of felt neutral toward it. My dining companions ordered the lamb ravioli, the ossobucco risotto, and the sole served with mussels, chard and a cream sauce.

I loved the lamb ravioli – simple but aromatic and the meat was really tender. The risotto wasn’t bad, but the rice got a little sticky by the end and lacked some flavor. The sole with mussels was quite good too – I loved the pile of chard served below (maybe because it was a nice fresh change since the dish was a bit heavy).

For dessert we ordered a trio of homemade ice cream and the passion fruit mousse. Both were magnificent in their simplicity- perhaps my favorite part of the meal. Candied orange peel and meringues were served with the coffee – a nice way to end the night on a doubly sweet note.Overall, I enjoyed our experience at Oviedo. Though you’re paying a pretty penny to eat there (and will be eating off of Christolfe dinnerware, le sigh), don’t expect overly involved service. I know this is sort of the idea of the place, to throw back to days gone by, but it’s a fine line for me – you don’t have to sit and tell me your life story but you could try to make some eye contact and slow down once in a while. But it was efficient, we weren’t stuck waiting around, so I wouldn’t ever say the service here is lackluster.

Perhaps having waited five years to try this place ended up in some unrealistic expectations. I was basically waiting to be served the best meal of life, so the stakes were high. (I will add that my dining buddies were all very impressed, and one even said he’d put it in his Top 5) But taking all that into account, I would definitely go back. If anything just to take in the atmosphere, gaze out those big windowpanes, and imagine what Buenos Aires would have been like a century ago.

Oviedo
Beruti 2602, Barrio Norte
4821-3741
Open every day from 12pm-2am

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