When I was in 5th grade, we were asked to write goals we hoped to achieve during the course of the school year. For some reason I wrote that I wanted to be a vegetarian. Given my nonexistent willpower, this experiment probably lasted all of three days. While I love to eat anything and everything, I still find that a nice big meal that doesn’t feature meat as the centerpiece is almost more satisfying to me than anything else.
OK, the big draw of Buenos Aires is the beef: juicy steaks everywhere, making your mouth water and stomach growl. That’s all well and good, but sometimes your body wants something else. Fresher. Lighter. Slightly healthier – but without sacrificing the tasty part. Basically, your body needs plants.
Thankfully Meghan from Jueves a la Mesa knows what’s up. Intimate weekly dinners, hosted at her house (now a new, shared space in San Telmo known as Fondo Club) with good company and even better food. The propuesta – the entire meal is vegetarian with an effort to minimize use of refined sugars or flour. (Carnivores are probably rolling their eyes now, but you’ll be sorely mistaken to realize that this isn’t some GOOP-inspired dinner of blanched lettuce leaves.)
Meghan, joined by ex-Matilda’s (RIP) face Sofi – serves up hearty and fresh meals – often with varying themes such as African or Mediterranean – that will make you reconsider your love of pork (don’t worry, I still love bacon). Friends and I were lucky to snag seats last week and had a great time enjoying the new space. It’s still cozy – just two tables, with room for about 15 people total – but has a full bar (and sassy bartender) as well as an area for musicians to perform.
Our second course was a tortilla de papa with a twist. It was more like a gratin but without all the heavy cheese and cream. Lots of potato-y layers with a nice crunchy topping. I could have asked for seconds of this one.
The main course was a zucchini lasagna … made without pasta! Ta-da! I have a similar recipe saved somewhere in a drawer and am now more motivated to give it a whirl. The ricotta added substance without weighing things down too much, and if you were to eat the dish with your eyes closed, I’d bet that you wouldn’t even notice that pasta was missing. On the side was a fresh salad with some corn and a mix of seeds – a basic yet fitting accompaniment to the meal.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Jueves a la Mesa, but you know Meghan for her famous homemade chocolates. Little bundles of loved served in tiny glass jars, these puppies come in a range of flavors – curry, fennel & sea salt, natural – and are way better than anything you can buy at a store here. Our chocolates were served alongside slices of fresh fruit and a small handful of almonds. Balanced and refreshing. A light tea with cardomom was the perfect final note.
If you feel like you need a detox but don’t want to live off of green juice for 5 days at a time, a stop at Jueves a la Mesa will be all you need to renew your love for plants without having to sacrifice things like chewing and enjoying a wonderful meal. The portions were just enough – I left neither overstuffed nor underfed – and the atmosphere is inviting and warm.
The crazy affordable menu costs just AR$120 and includes water and one glass of wine. The wine list is short but sufficient; we had a nice Las Perdices bonarda which was reasonably priced. You really can’t beat this price, if you think about it. The musicians were a nice touch and helped add some more ambiance to the evening.
Two things I would work on? The acoustics, which were such that I had a hard time hearing my dinner mate at the other end of the table, and the bathroom. The sink was leaking and there was a bunch of stuff piled up around the edge of the bathtub, which gave me the feeling that I was intruding on someone’s personal space. It definitely needs sprucing up, but should be an easy fix.
Check out Jueves a la Mesa online and on Facebook, as well as Fondo Club for more information on the other events being hosted at this closed door space in San Telmo. You definitely won’t want to miss out on what’s coming up!
Jueves a la Mesa
Thursday evenings, from 8:30pm
San Telmo – address provided upon reservation