From start to finish this was one of the best restaurant experiences I have ever had.
We had been wine tasting in the day (Ampora Wine Tours – very highly recommended) where we visited 4 vineyards in total and had a rather large 6 course tasting lunch at about 3pm so despite being extremely excited we turned up to the (slightly hard to find) 1884 at about 9.30pm still feeling fairly full.
I knew a fair bit about Francis Mallmann’s outdoor, wild, fire obsessed cooking style and this was accentuated by the Netflix documentary ‘Chef’s Table’ and Francis’s supreme instagram game! In fact fast-forwarding to the end of the meal when I told the waiter that the ribeye was the best steak I have ever had, the chef came out to speak to us and he said that he often only finds out where Francis is based on his instagram profile because he is so busy and is constantly travelling all over the world. What a guy!
So we arrived with a full stomach but a hungry mind and first picked a lovely Grand Reserve Malbec (of course) surrounded by a very smart but comfortable decor and blue/white striped seats and sofas. The garden is also stunning and is where the main kitchen and ‘asado/parrilla’ (barbecue) is for cooking the steaks as well as a big clay pizza type outside oven. (FYI an asado is the event of having a barbeque and a parrilla is the grill used to cook the meat (picture below left) or a restaurant specializing in grilled meat.).
The ambiance was friendly and vibrant with a mixture of families and couples drinking, laughing and sharing (both stories and food).
On to the food! We had the Polpo (Octopus) which came as one large tentacle grilled with a grilled lemon, roast potatoes cooked in the outside oven and a garlic alioli. It was delicious, tender and flavoursome with a charred taste but not remotely overcooked. Something so simple as fish, potatoes and garlic mayo was transformed to a wonderfully composed and balanced starter.
We also had a salad of grilled goats cheese, soft grilled aubergine, with a green leaf salad and balsamic dressing. It was fresh and the mature, crispy cheese contrasted wonderfully with the soft and sweet aubergine.
Now onto the main event. Steaks or ‘Ojo de Bife’ (Rib Eye). We both had the same due to fear of food envy. I don’t know the exact weight but it seemed more than 400g, probably 500-600. It came on ‘Patagonia potatoes’ which was fried crispy potatoes like freshly made warm crisps (potato chips if you are in the US). The steaks in Argentina are all cut very thick so that you can achieve a fantastic char colour and flavour on the outside, whilst remaining tender, moist and pink inside. It was hands down the most tender and flavoursome steak I have ever had. The beauty of the potatoes is that the outside remain crispy, and the ones underneath the steak soak up and become soggy from the natural juices from the steak, almost creating a gravy. The typical sauce of ‘chimichurri’ of fresh chopped parsely, garlic, olive oil, oregano and white white vinegar was the garnish.
We were unfortunately too full for dessert but by this point we were so blown away with satisfaction that it didn’t matter that we were probably missing some unbelievable dulce de leche masterpiece. Instead we had an espresso, a glass of champagne as we waited for a taxi, and left very happy.