Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Buenos Aires Supperclub at A La Cruz

Tucked away on a back street off Farringdon Road, Argentine restaurant A La Cruz is a hidden gem in the truest sense of the phrase. Once you get inside, there’s nothing subtle about it, though.

A large fire pit grilling hunks of meat is an apt introduction of what’s to come in the dining room, where I've been invited along with a host of foodie folks from across London to take part in the restaurant’s first Buenos Aires Urban Cuisine Evening.

We occupy the private dining area in a Mafia-esque wood-clad boardroom that feels grand in a very homely kind of a way. We sit around a large communal table, in the style of the traditional, convivial neighbourhood restaurants in Argentina’s capital that been influential in the Supper Club and Underground Restaurant craze currently sweeping through London.

Simple but flavour-packed dishes on offer included mollejas al verdeo (sweetbreads with spring onion), Rinoncitos al Jerez (lamb kidneys in Jerez wine sauce) and Tortilla de zapallitos (a tortilla made with courgettes) alongside tender gnocchi, a stew of lentils and a very authentic tripe casserole. As intriguing as they are delicious, these dishes put up an astounding fight at standing their own against the sensational cuts of fine Argentine beef that are the restaurant’s signature.

Pork a la pizza, also stands as one of the most ingenious ways I've seen (and I have looked) of ensuring nothing goes without a healthy portion of meat. It is literally a thin, tender escalope of pork cooked on the charcoal grill and topped with tomato and mozzarella as if it were a pizza. Surely this could take off big time. Perhaps even making up for its vegetarian unfriendly credentials with a claim of being gluten free. Bring on the pork pizzas, people!

Wine on the night came courtesy of Septima, who were on hand with Malbecs and more from Mendoza, Argentina’s first region of wine. Smooth, rich, ripe, hearty fruit flavours and packed but soft tannins make them devilishly (and dangerously) quaffable, but they certainly ahve what it takes to stand up to the food, too.

Dulce de Leche ice-cream ensured that the dinner ended in suitably indulgent form, rounding off a night of charismatic chatter, good food and great wine with some foodie friends.

Bring on the next one, this is a supper club exactly as it should be. Just don't bring any vegetarians, whatever you do.

Thanks to Su-Lin Ong for the invite. Visit for more information.

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