It gives me great pleasure to announce the birth of the Ascurra family’s second child. A mere 22 months after their first, Villa Crespo, once again they have managed to produce a bundle of joy that will take pride of place in Palermo Hollywood.
Tapas bar number two will of course be serving up firm faves such as burrata, fried squid and diddy cañitas of lager all in tribute of Spain’s gastro bar snack heritage. Coming into the world on Thursday, pull up a stool before everyone else gets wind of this new-born gem.
Staying in Hollywood, there’s another newbie on the block, on Bonpland and Cabrera. A warm welcome to Leitmotiv, another birth so new I haven’t managed to wet the baby’s head yet.
La Esperanza de los Ascurra
Fitzroy 1818, Palermo Hollywood
Now, it pays to keep a close eye on Antonio Soriano’s Astor. Since opening in July, he is shining in his own kitchen and what is Chez Nous’ loss is everyone else’s gain. Fusing guest chef with pop up and street food in one fell swoop, Soriano and his Spanish chef buddy Yago Márquez (Unik) teamed up for Calle Manduque, and the chance to bring a little ghetto to high-end gastro.
Tasting menu? Check. Fish and chips in newspaper? Check. The baddest black hotdog in the world ever, ripe for dribbling down pressed T-shirts and pretty dresses? Check out the mess I made…
Part one of this brand-new street-food venture took place last Wednesday; and keep ‘em peeled for forthcoming adventures in ghetto gastro with Tony. You could even score gold like me by bumping into top sommelier Rodrigo Calderón, who took care of blue lips and sips.
Ciudad de la Paz 353, Colegiales
Let’s also take this opportunity to wish Toro 777 a very happy first birthday. This cute closed door restaurant on the northern side of Villa Crespo, verging on Chacarita, just marked its first year on November 10, operating out of chef Guillermo de Saavedra Coria’s home. Living in Spain for a decade, Guillermo headed back to Buenos Aires three summers ago for a visit. When his airline went bust, he couldn’t get back across the Atlantic, so off he went on holiday with his mum to Peru and Ecuador, and set up a new life once again but in his motherland. The rest, is his story.
With a two-strong staff including himself, Toro 777 changes up its fixed five-course menu each weekend. For 180 pesos, water, a tasty bread basket and tea or coffee are included, a snip. Given that he is honing in on his European experiences, Guillermo dabbles in Asian, Italian, Spanish, Basque and Asian cuisine, an eclectic mix. We had chorizo-stuffed squid that was interesting if lacking a little zip, but a stunning gazpacho that was perfectly refreshing on a warm spring night and totally moreish.
If you’re asked whether you’d like to take your aperitif on the terrace, do so, and sink back into a deck chair to enjoy the decorative bed pans. A fun and quirky spot that returns closed doors to chefs’ homes.
Toro 777, Villa Crespo
Address on reservation
But the true princess of this birthday party is of course the sweet 15er, quinceañera Gran Bar Danzón. And let me add that it is no mean feat to reach the grand old age of 15 in the porteño bar and restaurant world. It was a different century when business partners Luis Morandi and Patricia Scheuer set up Buenos Aires’ first wine and cocktail bar, and naturally it was a challenge, Patricia recalled at a recent birthday dinner.
“We were told when we opened we’d fail for two reasons. First of all, we were told diners and drinkers should never have to go upstairs to reach a restaurant. And the second reason was that no one really drank wine back then,” she told me.
Proving the non-believers wrong, all they’ve ever done has turned to gold — Sucre, Grand Café, BASA basement bar (with the exception of Belgrano’s San Benito) — but this crack team knows exactly what it’s doing, and has done it right for 15 years.
It’s also the ship that launched a 1,000 faces, giving the hottest names on the drinks scene today their first whirls on the other side of the bar. It’s like a Who’s Who, from Tato Giovannoni (Florería Atlántico), Julián Diáz (878), Inés de los Santos (Unico Shanghai) and Andrés Rosberg (Argentine Sommelier Association prez). Let’s raise our glasses to salute GBD, a pioneer and a powerhouse.
Gran Bar Danzón
Libertad 1161, Recoleta
Speaking of 15, Argentina’s finest chefs as named by the LatAm 50 best awards, banded together to host a lunchtime pick ‘n mix at Oviedo. Tomo 1’s Federico Fialayre whipped up some stunning salmon confit with dill vinaigrette, while Juan Gaffuri from Elena upped the hungry ante with Kobe beef, poached egg and artichoke. The host restaurant’s chef Martin Rebaudino, clocking a moment to practise English, presented me with “teeny tiny baby squid.” He was absolutely right, teeny tiny they were and in squid-ink tainted risotto. Mouth-watering.
Buenos Aires Herald, November 17, 2013