When the drinks dream team responsible for setting up the Four Seasons Buenos Aires’ ace watering-hole Pony Line get together to launch a new bar, you should listen to what they have to say.
Sebastián Maggi and Santiago Lambardi recently left the Recoleta-based five-star hotel to branch out with a new project in Microcentro.
While BASA and Florería Atlántico have the east part sewn up (more toward Retiro), the more central zone close to shopping hub Florida is lacking hip drinking dens.
The delightful Dill & Drinks closed down months ago, while Bow wine bar has never taken that giant leap into full-time, regular business. And the rest of downtown is all crappy pubs and hop-reeking bars that look to capture workers in desperate need of a drink come 5.59pm.
Shout Brasas & Drinks’ Maipú location is a bit ropey, with various cartoneros and homeless people roaming the vicinity. And although they all seemed harmless — or high — enough on Tuesday, it is a polite reminder that you are in downtown Buenos Aires and the next person round the corner might not be quite so friendly.
But don’t be put off. The entrance is grand and welcoming, immediately take the stairs to the first floor. The mansion was previously an art gallery among other things but its latest reinvention is kitchen-bar.
Maggi was previously beverages manager at the Four Seasons, and is a qualified psychologist and sommelier who put together the spirits programme at CAVE wine institute. Lambardi, meanwhile, led Pony Line’s team, managing the front of house, so as you can imagine service is top-notch at Shout.
Having opened just two weeks ago, the launch has been a soft one but as soon as word gets out, it’s going to get packed.
More bar than restaurant, the music is pumping and while Phil Collins wasn’t playing as we walked in, he was definitely on the jukebox later. I know the 1980s rule here but Phil, in a cool bar in 2014, is a no-no…
Street light shines in romantically through the large wooden window, a dining area is cordoned off by fixed vertical rope chains but the focal point is the bar.
Actually, my focal point was the by-the-glass wine dispenser, first seen at Masticar in October, which, by popping a dash of nitrogen into bottles, keeps around 30 open bottles as fresh as a daisy. A total novelty in BA, less so in the rest of the world.
High metal stools line the bar, the deceptive sort that look uncomfy but are quite the opposite. And given that my dinner and drinks date was a cook and her restaurateur husband, we bagged the stools in the corner with a perfect view of the shiny new open kitchen.
Keen to sample as much as possible of the modern Argentine fare, we snapped up several starters including a chicken liver pate all cute in a jar accompanied by toasted brioche (60 pesos), an open marinated anchovy sandwich slathered with coriander and chile (85 pesos), sweetbreads (110 pesos) and tiradito de lenguado (70 pesos). With clever use of chutney, homemade pickles and zesty limes, these dishes were a great showcase to prove that simplicity can excel.
That said, despite being a substantial portion, the mollejas were a bit of a let down as they weren’t crispy enough on the outside for our tastes.
Given that there are mains means side dishes also feature and we went for baked cauliflower (all sides 60 pesos), an unusual option as this veg is often redundant when it comes to fine dining. Makes you fart or something…
But baked, and backed up by bacon and a crunchy almond croute meant the humble old cauliflower might just become a star turn. Crunchy, savoury, bacon, we were fighting over the last crumbs.
And of course that greed meant we didn’t have any veg left for the shared main course, matambre de cerdo (130 pesos). Melty, mouth-watering, just the right amount of grilling on the coals, this was a winning situation — apart from the sharing part.
Other mains we didn’t try include grilled fish of the day and spicy chicken thighs, ranging from 125 to 150 pesos, but our pick was a good ‘un and I’d return for more.
I’ve focused on the brasas part more than the drinks, mainly because I made a bad drinks choice for a summer’s night. But the list, much like the menu, is short, sweet and well-constructed and needs close attention.
And with additional outdoor spaces higher up the building due to open shortly, this will be the downtown summer hotspot to be drinking at.
Shout Brasas & Drinks
Maipú 981, Microcentro
Buenos Aires Herald, November 23, 2014