Before the people, first came the food – The Argentinian steak experience

Our first day in Buenos Aires was spent strolling along the riverbank of Peurto Madero in search of the perfect melt-in-mouth, Argentinian steak experience.

I’d had this mouth melting experience once before, a couple of years ago at a restaurant called Rockpool in Sydney. The steak was unbelievable, dreamlike, like INCREDIBLE in the way I’d expected the Inca Trail to be INCREDIBLE!

I dreamt about that steak for a week after, and to this day speak of the memory fondly.. I was looking forward to comparing Argentinian steak, which I kept on hearing was the best meat in the world, to my prior ultimate steak experience at Rockpool.

In my company was Amy (who was in Buenos Aires for a couple of days before flying home to Australia) and K (who is a vegetarian). Together, we carefully scrutinised every menu from the many waterfront restaurants of Peurto Madero before selecting out of desperate hunger rather than thoughtful consideration a restaurant called La Cabana.

T, logically – ‘They have a stuffed cow next to their menu. They MUST do great steak.’

Our waiter seats us and takes our drink order.

K – ‘Tap water?’ joking (I think)

Waiter, a well-spoken, out-of-work-actor type – ‘No, this is NOT a budget restaurant. If you want tap water you have to go to Burger King’

Offended, we silently eye each other.. he thinks we’re poor unemployed travellers! Which we were. But to prove him wrong, we sat up straight and ordered whatever steak we thought would meet our carnivorous fantasy best, sparing no expense on beef or wine.

First, the complementary breads and spreads – The bread selection was freshly baked, varying from walnut fused to brown grained with a side of tasty eggplant, spice, and tomato salsa dips. We finish off the whole bread basket delicately, trying not to seem like poor starving backpackers. Another full basket appears, and disappears within minutes. Our message was clear – Gluttony does NOT equal poverty!

The complementary entree – The word ‘Complementary’ meant ‘comes with the restaurant cover charge of 16 Pesos per head’, which included a scrumptious trio of canapes – a tiny model of a chorizo burger, a soup spoon of clear gravy with fillet of chicken (yum!), and a baby empenada (vegetarian)

Mains – Beef Tenderloin with a side of creamy baked potatoes

Amy, to the waiter – ‘I want it RARE, like still moving on the plate’

T – ‘I’ll have mine bleeding, but not moving. Gracia.’

The tenderloin was tender, with the right balance of flavour from salting. However, the velvet texture was not consistent from start to centre and the tenderness did not melt – I still had to chew.

Overall it was a delicious 3 hour meal that hit just below my criteria of ultimate steak experience, but hit perfectly on the entertaining dining with great company in a gorgeous location, in a beautiful city that made you feel like you were on a vacation from your holidays.

Recommendation – If the melt in the mouth experience is what you’re after, stick to Kobe beef.

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