Argentina / Restaurants

El Bistro – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Red mullet with assorted roast vegies, pureed onion, garlic and leek

Rhubarb and coconut foam dessert

Coconut sponge topped with lime sorbet, coconut sugar flake, coconut cream foam, accompanied with cinammon marinated pineapple and lime jelly

Rich raspberry icecream with yogurt topped on crumbled green tea cake, green tea cream and green tea sugar flake

I used to work at Fossil, you know that shop that sells watches. Keep reading  – this will get relevant to this food blog pretty soon. Fossil sold these pretty useless watches, those real fancy ones that don’t really tell the time. They called it fashion, charged lots of money for it and told everyone that they were designed  by a dude named Phillipe Starck. But in all honesty, they were real pretty and I was too cheap to buy them despite having a staff discount.

Okay, I’m about to relate it to food. Buenos Aires has a ridiculous complex named Faena Hotel + Universe. It’s a hybrid hotel, restaurant, shopping, day spa and whatever else rich people like doing, sitting conveniently in one building in the super posh barrio (suburb) of Puerto Madero. The building is absolutely beautiful, quirky, bold and – you guessed it – designed by Phillipe Starck. And this place is truly an experience. There’s two restaurants contained within this posh mini complex, very simply named El Mercado and El Bistro. Both restaurants are headed by Mariano Cid de la Paz – a chef well known as the protege of Ferran Adria – considered the best chef in the world. For all of you who are like me and who haven’t heard of either dudes, Adria is apparently famous for inventing the technique of incorporating foam and air into foods to enhance flavours without overpowering the dish. Sampling the degustation menu at El Bistro really emphasised Cid de la Paz’s mastery and obsession with adding ‘air’ to everything. Every single dish came out with some sort of main ingredient in foam or air form, such as butter air, mint air, potato foam etc. To describe it simply, it’s just adds a very faint taste to the dish while looking a bit like a bubble bath. Bubble baths are fun, and so is food foam. But you gotta eat the food air before all the food bubbles burst (I’m half kidding).

Lamb dumplings with leek consomme, mint air and pickled carrots

The degustation menu included a surprise collection of 7 entrees/mains and 3 desserts. Each looked complex, colourful, crazy and each were very unexpected. We partnered it up with a beautiful bottle of Crios Torrentes – an exclusive grape variety to Argentina . My highlights were a wonderfully fragrant and sickly brown coloured mushroom soup with soy truffles, with a low temperature cooked egg (which made the egg poached but the whites super thin and delicate) and the shrimp tempura with rice noodles, salmon roe and shellfish puree. Both dishes displaying such excellent balance while hitting you in the face with flavour.

Prawn Tempura with vinegar rice noodles salmon roe and shellfish puree

Egg cooked at low temperature, muschroom soup + truffle soy

The food is reminiscent to molecular gastronomy even though the term isn’t really favorably used as yet amongst cullinaries. You might have seen extreme examples of molecular gastronomy in TV show Heston’s Feast. It’s not all as wanky as it seems, it’s simply a science of experimenting with food to push the boundaries of an ingredient’s physical properties. Cooking an egg at super slow temperatures does crazy things to it, one you gotta see to be impressed by. While I’m far from a fan of complexity, pretension and overly large plates at the dinner table, I give this restaurant a great exception for Alan Faena’s fantastic down to earth ability to incorporate superior luxury into hospitable informality. The staff here at the restaurant really complete the experience. All know English, all are lovely and will answer every question you have with a smile. Even the stupid ones like “what is that green thing on my plate?” and “is that a mushroom?”. This is definitely a great experience if you have the money (or the credit card) and the time in Buenos Aires, make sure you come with an open mind and an open stomach because the food here is not for the faint of heart. But if you are an unfussy eater, love bold flavours, don’t mind being stared down by red eyed unicorns and enjoy pretending to know stuff about fine dining, this restaurant will be money well spent.

Info:  Martha Salotti 445, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires

How much money to bring: USD$150-300

OK to bring a date? Yes, absolutely. Especially if you are a sugar daddy/mamma / looking for a sugar daddy/mamma.

It’s closed on: Sun-Tues

Don’t: eat lunch if you’re planning to order the desgustation menu

Do: have a flick through the super impressive wine menu and ask for friendly recommendations when it all becomes too overwhelming.

Sounds like: Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

Rating: 4/5


3 thoughts on “El Bistro – Buenos Aires, Argentina

  1. How much did your food cost? $200 – $500???????? Or is the Australian dollar doing a lot more than I thought it could? Better have been a damned fine slow cooked egg.

  2. i “think” it cost AUD$300 each for the degustation menu and a bottle of wine, but eh I’d rather not think about that lol. And the egg, mmm was damn fine. As was the soup it was sitting in.

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