Restaurant review: Buen Ayre, E8
- Credit: Archant
There’s no better eulogy for Argentinean restaurant Buen Ayre than for a native to brand it the ‘most authentic and best’ he knows in London.
“You need to try the food to understand why,” he told me as we sat down to dinner in the unassuming little place, tucked away in London Fields’ Broadway Market.
For while the decor is not overly sophisticated, the food here is in a class of its own.
For starters we took empanadas - small pastries filled with the likes of pancetta and cheese or beef, olives and spring onions. A lot thinner than Cornish pasties, the pastry is a little bit crispy.
Apparently you can get these delivered like pizzas in Argentina – something I now yearn for in London.
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Italian ingredients are commonplace in Argentinean food, because of the historical influx of migrants, and showed up in our other starter – melted provolone cheese.
With the tangy strength of parmeggiana, it goes really soft when it melts - this is the Argentinian equivalent of a Swiss fondue, and one for all the cheese lovers out there.
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“That’s something about Argentina - it’s a strong experience – and that includes the food, you have to be prepared,” my friend warned me.
Steak–wise Buen Ayre conjured up a whole new experience for me.
I couldn’t believe the size of the ‘lomo’ or fillet cut - several times taller than any steak typically served up over here.
But for a piece of meat so thick, it had the most exquisitely melt-in-the-mouth texture that has ever passed my lips, enhanced by its crispy outer edges.
The secret lies apparently in sourcing top notch meat, along with the art of the chef who slow-cooks it to absolute perfection.
There’s no two-minute short and sharp frying going on here – in fact the chef is the star of the show and expertly heats it on the wood-fired grill for up to an hour, ensuring it’s super tender.
Beating mustard or ketchup any day, accompaniment comes in the form of chimichurri, a finely chopped green sauce made of parsley, garlic, and oregano.
And washing it all down a treat was a bottle of Felino, a soft and warm Malbec - the national grape variety of sorts, which originates from France but grows better in the hotter South American landscape.
To top off the ultimate Argentinean experience the pancakes topped with dulce de leche are a must have – the intensely sweet creamy toffee is a favourite for natives, who are known to gulp it down by the spoonful.
This typical Argentine grill puts all the emphasis on the food – which isn’t uber cheap, the fillet steak is £26.50.
But when you take into account the exquisite quality and the love they put into cooking it, it’s well worth every penny for what might well be the best steak you’ll ever taste.