Eating at a Well-Reviewed BA Restaurant (purely by accident)

Today’s plan, since it was Sunday (and much of BA closes on Sundays) was to visit the local outdoor ferria in San Telmo. It was a fascinating scene full of people and vendors, and stretching across numerous city blocks. But, as so often happens after a few hours, both the Non-baker and Baker got hungry and began to look around the local restaurants. First they stopped in at La Brigada, a parilla mentioned in almost every guide book and food blog that they read. However, the crowds here were immense and they didn’t particularly feel like waiting for another hour or hour and a half for a table. So they ventured on, turning down side streets that took them further from the market. Doing so led them straight to Casa San Jose, with its numerous article write-ups stuck in the window, modern design elements, and Hungarian-Italian inspired menu.

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Walking in, one could easily be in San Francisco, New York, Berkeley, or DC. The open restaurant invites patrons to seat themselves at either the long back bar (giving ample view of the kitchen), the long communal tables towards the back, or, for more intimate gatherings, at the other smaller tables scattered throughout the restaurant. The menu is a fascinating mix of the chef’s Hungarian background, the heavy Italian influence that pervades much of Argentinian cuisine, and Argentinian ingredients. This results in a menu that is a bit heavy on the acid, meat, and pasta, but is absolutely tremendous for those inclusions.

For example, one appetizer is the pickled confit wild rabbit and carrot, likwhich tastes almost stew-like and is served on toasts and topped with a bit of arugula and reduced balsamic vinegar. It’s like nothing else the Baker and Non-baker have eaten in Argentina. The Non-baker, with her love of vinegar was very excited.

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The restaurant’s bread basket contained a fantastic selection: biscuits, white and brown brads, and an olive foccacia.

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These were accompanied by a pleasantly buttery and only slightly grassy olive oil as well as a small container of white beans in a chimmichurri.

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Instead of buying a Malbec, the baker and non-baker opted for sparkling water. However, unlike many restaurants in the area, CSJ serves their seltzer in glass bottles with attached pressurized cartridges, allowing them to serve larger amounts of more bubble-filled sparkling water. It’s a bit more old-fashioned and hence requires more elbow grease, though it’s kinda fun.

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The other appetizer they ordered was a beef carpaccio, topped with slices of a local cheese and a small green salad. The beef, like much of the beef available in good restaurants in Argentina, was superb, and the cheese and salad good accompaniments. Again, they found the dish to include excess vinegar.

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They also ordered two main dishes. The first, a house-made canneloni, was filled with pumpkin and broccoli and topped with cheese, a light olive oil and tomato sauce. The hand-rolled pasta glided across their tongues, contrasting beautifully with the density of the stuffing.

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The second dish was a beef de chorizo, the Spanish name for a sirloin or New York strip steak,  served with house frites, and sauteed mushrooms and onions, all topped with a vinaigrette. The beef was cooked to a nice medium– juicy and pink in the interior. The non-baker, who adores vinegar, was delighted with the vinaigrette which she spooned over her meat and dipped her bread in.

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Alas, the food was so delicious that they could not manage to think about the possibility of dessert. Perhaps next time?

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