Review: Brasero Atlántico

Brasero Atlántico

Once upon a time, calle Arroyo was just a place where you’d go to window shop for expensive antiques or drink free champagne out of plastic flutes for Gallery Nights. However, thanks to those brave souls that saw potential for a fabulous foodie future, the past few years have brought a fresh crop of delicious business to the barrio.

By this point we’re all familiar with Florería Atlántico and the magic it entails. The place is now so popular that locals are forced to hover around the entrance in line with Brazilian tourists and other curious travelers, yearning for a coveted seat somewhere, anywhere that’s free. It’s still one of the best watering holes in town, but as with everything in life, it never hurts to spice things up and forge ahead.

Enter Brasero Atlántico, Florería’s laid back little brother. After months of intrigue and patience, the much-awaited sibling made its quiet debut just a couple of weeks ago, right next door.  Continue reading

Review: Shout Brasas & Drinks

SHOUT Brasas & DrinksThe shortest distance between two points is always a straight line, correct? Now imagine that if along the straight line between your office and home there were a perfect little spot for a drink and some tapas – it would be a pretty good deal, don’t you think?

When Shout opened up along Maipú, just steps from Plaza San Martín, a couple of months back, I was thrilled to pop in and see if I could add it to my barrio repertoire (the #RetiroRenaissance is real, people). Luckily, it was a home run. The lovechild of two veterans of the noche porteña (Sebastián Maggi and Santiago Lambardi, who cut their teeth at Sucre and then moved on to head up the drinks team at Pony Line/the Four Seasons), Shout is reminiscent of a few of my BA favorites mixed together: Milión, Dill & Drinks (RIP), and Florería Atlántico.  Continue reading

Review: Chiuso Ristorante

Chiuso Ristorante Buenos Aires

Despite the overwhelming amount of Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, it’s surprisingly tough to get solid Italian food that goes above and beyond your typical heavy gnocchi or sludgy risotto. Sure, there are a few spots that do it right (L’Adesso and Guido’s come to mind), but let’s just say – the struggle is real.

Thank heavens for owner/somm/one-man-show Mariano Akman and his dedication to righting this wrong. With years of experience under his belt, he opened Doppio Zero on Zabala, a tree-lined street in the posh part of Belgrano. Located on the ground floor of a boutique hotel, the 30-cover bistro served up fresh orecchiette and other pastas, and classic seafood and meat dishes, in the most intimate of miniature settings. They quickly outgrew this space and moved around the corner to a larger locale on Soldado de Independencia en Las Cañitas.

When word of its closing spread, I’d feared that it was the end of the line. Luckily, it was just a reinvention, a la Cher or Lady Gaga (but with fewer sequins). With a new name – Chiuso Ristorante – and a fancy new address – San Martín 1153, right in front of Plaza San Martín in Retiro – there was lots of buzz from the start.

The space itself is classic, anchored by the marble topped bar in what is otherwise a pared down local without much fanfare beyond the wall of Campari bottles and large picture windows. It has good bones; tables situated near the front enjoy views of the Plaza and the rest of the downtown bustle.

And the food? Just as great – if not better than – before. The variety of antipasti includes cold treats like fresh salads, burrata, paté, as well as warm plates with grilled polenta, prawns with pesto, and the most insane rabbit croquettes that you’ve ever had in this lifetime. Sonnets can – and should – be written about these croquettes. They’re light, crunchy and contain zero filler; the red pepper sauce that comes with is the perfect accompaniment. When I win the lottery I will demand to have an endless supply of these puppies on hand at all times. No joke.

Pesto Prawns - Chiuso Ristorante

Mains feature pasta (both fresh and by De Cecco), risotti, and seafood/meat. You can’t really go wrong with anything here; the conchiglie served with lamb ragú, fresh citrus ricotta and arugula knocked my socks off, as did the pappardelle with broccoli, ‘shrooms and pancetta. Though it was a tough choice between the prawn and mushroom risotti, the prawns edged out by a hair. If you’re not in the mood for carbs, order the rabbit – served just like Mariano’s grandmother used to prepare it.

Pappardelle - Chiuso RistoranteMaybe you’re experiencing a different kind of dilemma. Rather than struggle to decide what to eat, you want to order it all. Fear not. Every dish on the menu (antipasti included) can be ordered as a full or half portion. Whether you want to maximize your ordering strategy if out with friends or just want to pretend you’re sticking to your diet, it’s the best way to sample a dish without having to commit fully to it. (It should be noted that these half portions are still filling and won’t leave you scarfing down the bread basket, though it’s so delicious you would have already done so by now).

Prawn Risotto - Chiuso RistoranteDesserts are classic, with the tiramisú and the pistachio semifreddo standing out as favorites. Sadly there isn’t any grappa or limoncello to top it all off, though let’s hope that is part of the phase two planning.

Pistachio Semifreddo - Chiuso RistoranteNot only am I thrilled to have yet another great restaurant in the neighborhood (the #RetiroRenaissance is real, dudes). but it’s also so wonderful to see someone so enthusiastic about their project and dream as Mariano is. He’s always going about 80mph, corkscrew conveniently at hand in the pocket of his jeans, chatting with patrons and making you feel like you’re the most important guest of honor. His experience is obvious; he’s completely in his element and really thrives off of running the show. In a day where restaurant owners barely seem present, it’s a treat to see otherwise.

Bienvenuti nel barrio, Chiuso. It’s great to have you.

Chiuso Ristorante
San Martín 1153 – Retiro
Tuesday-Saturday 12-4pm, 8-11:30pm
4311-7652

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: Florería Atlántico

This week I am dedicating my efforts to Retiro. Call me lazy, call me a genius (?), but there is nothing better than seeing new places pop up on your neighborhood radar.

Having a dog has shown me to a whole new side of things. Waking up at 7am every day so she can poop on grass will do that to you. Actually, aside from being able to get the scoop on gossip from the porteros as they hose down their sidewalks (honestly, they see everything, watch out), I have been able to keep an eye on little spots and shops that perhaps I’d never noticed before.

Floreria Atlantico One early morning I was strolling down Arroyo and stopped in my tracks when I saw that the long-abandoned space where chic/trash lounge L’Abeille used to be was finally occupied with a new tenant. Tall shelves with fine wines lined the back wall, while buckets of brilliant blooms and greens were placed up in the front. It intrigued me because there were no working hours posted in the door, and it looked to be a little bare bones to be a full-on florist’s shop.

Atlantico Florería Atlántico opened its doors barely more than a week ago, but the buzz is already doing its thing. Word on the street is that those behind the classic (and first-ever in BA) speakeasy 878 as well as gourmand’s paradise HG at the Fierro Hotel are running the show here, which can only mean good things. Celeb bartender Tato Giovannoni is the one slinging up some potent potables, punto a favor. We tried it out last Friday, not sure what to expect. Entering the downstairs bar area through what looks like a giant refrigerator door, we were surprised to see a badass space with awesome wall graffiti / art, well-done lighting, and an understated vibe that blends the chic and the run-down.

Cocktails follow the current trends you’ll see at other BA hotspots, what with Aperol and Campari and other concoctions. My drink was served up in a mason jar, which made me smile. I kind of felt like I was in a bar in downtown Manhattan, but without the twinge of porteño obsession to imitate what’s already going on in other parts of the world. Great music, great vibe all around, good times. Small bites are available. We munched on some mind-blowing mollejas, an incredible white salmon with an orange sauce, and a juicy rib eye with spinach.

Though the bar hasn’t had its official opening yet, it was packed and lively – more than a good sign. If anything, I’m just happy that I can drunkenly stroll those two blocks back to my apartment without having to pay a trapito or hail a taxi on Av. Juan B. Justo.

Florería Atlántico
Arroyo 872, Retiro
6761-2908


Review: Basavilbaso Grand Café

Despite its pitfalls, I am fiercely loyal to my beloved barrio of Retiro. I am close to work, enjoy a view of Uruguay across the river on a daily basis, and overall love its quirks like the sassy grannies and gossipy porteros. So, despite the Palermo-centric streak of gastronomic explosion that has been happening over the past several years, I have maintained firm in my devotion to Retiro and to my conviction that sooner or later, we’d have a windfall of our own. Well, ladies and gents, the Retiro Renaissance is well underway, starting off with a great little coffee shop just steps from my house.

DSC_0065Located in the Quartier building, Basavilbaso Grand Café serves up coffee (duh), homemade pastries and sweet treats, fresh juices and smoothies, and even has quite the extensive lunch menu. We visited just days after it opened and were happy to see it already buzzing with local neighbors and tourists alike.

DSC_0060Run by the same team behind the wildly successful Gran Bar Danzón and Sucre, Basavilbaso Grand Café offers a sort of industrial chic ambiance (much like Danzón, it has cement brick walls, as well as exposed beams and steel light fixtures) with cozy touches like blooming flowerpots and big cozy couches up in the front windows.

Grand Cafe FlowersOur breakfast was simple yet delicious, though the cappuccino wasn’t nearly as frothy and foamy as it should have been. Medialunas were a lot like croissants (I see this as a postive) and everything had that nice homemade feel. I look forward to picking up one of their tasty sandwiches on the go, or having an afternoon stop for tea and cake in the near future.

Grand Cafe Breakfast Insider tip: Plans are in the works to open up a bistro-type restaurant next door, meaning I’ll have even fewer reasons to cross Av. 9 de Julio in the coming months.

If you find yourself in Retiro, or even are just passing through the area while going from Point A to Point B, making a stop at Basavilbaso Grand Café is definitely something to mark on your to-do list.

Basavilbaso Grand Café
Basavilbaso 1340, Retiro
4893-9333

Review: Bengal

How do you review a place that you love so much you know there’s no real way at this point that you can provide an objective take on it? That is how I feel writing to you about Bengal – my hands down, all-time favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires, if not the universe. After three years of eating there on a regular basis (I’m talking on average, three times a month, though I’ve had more serious eras of addiction), it’s clear that I’m unable to find any real faults with the place. But honestly, it’s because there really aren’t any. Continue reading