Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back To Being Me

Today, with a little time to wander I strutted off the San Telmo looking for a place real Argentines eat. Enough of white tablecloth dinners at the high dollar restaurants by my hotel. Enough of being catered to. Enough of elegance and Buenos Aires with "airs".
Desnivel is a simple, dare I say it, no frills restaurant where local families and friends out to share a meal together gather. This is not the white glove service offered in the more exclusive restaurants in town but simple, homey, and -- by the way--  delicious fare offered at reasonable prices for working people -- and anyone who loves good food.
Right by the door, where you will be waiting for a table if you arrive anywhere near meal time, is the mammoth grill that fires many of Desnivel'd entrées and feeds a small counter for fresh made grilled meat sandwiches. The heartbeat of this friendly place and a pretty warm place to stand --- even on a crisp fall Buenos Aires day.
It's probably not much to look at. The decor is pretty much a rag-tag collection of old flags, posters, and an odd photo collection of Argentine film stars, comedians, and soccer players. None of them signed as if they had been customers, just dusty old photos covering a little space on the walls. The food, placed on the red checkered (covered in vinyl) tablecloths with a hurried smile, is the real decor here.

I started with the classic Argentine appetizer and evidence of the food genius of this food centric country, Provoletta. A thick slab of grilled provolone cheese flavored lightly with spices and olive oil. Fondue at it's most elemental taste, Raclette with no potatoes. Thick, oozy, flavorful cheese. I've got to remember to make this at home.

Although I was tempted by the delicious looking special of baked lamb, I felt compelled to compare and contrast. It was my last day, my last Argentine meal for a while after all. I went to order my usual collection of grilled offal -- sweetbreads, intestines, blood sausage. My waiter, though hurried (not at all unpleasant) with many tables to serve, pointed out the restaurant's mixed grill platter. "Less expensive that way." he advised. I ordered the platter and for less money added grilled kidneys to my dinner.
I have a new favorite place. The meats were perfectly grilled. Tender, crispy, delicious. The chimicurri sauce -- the argentine condiment of choice -- was peppery and vinegary and the perfect foil to the fatty, rich-tasting organ meats. Desnivel is my new must visit in BA. It has everything I look for in a bustling, vacation restaurant. Great food, friendly people, and a full menu of dishes you want to try. In spite of the long line on anxious patrons waiting for tables you never feel rushed, always welcome to linger and be one of the restaurant's family.
I'll be back for the baked lamb.

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