Feature image credit: Mike
Argentina is famous for its beef, it is even said to have “the most tender and tasty red meat IN THE WORLD”. Well, they surely have their own world-famous type of barbecue, known as “asado” or “parrillada”, for a more modern way of cooking. However, is Argentinian beef really the best beef in the world?
You can easily find traditional restaurants everywhere from the north to the south of the country. I ate meat in many restaurants in South America and I must say one of them made the difference.
El Viejo Balcon opened 20 years ago in a city called Rosario, located in the wonderful Province of Santa Fe. More than hosting this great restaurant it is also the birthplace of the Che and the international soccer player: Messi. They are also myths of the country but I was more up to taste good meat than to meet Messi…unfortunately for him ;).
At the entrance of the restaurant you can already feel a smell of grilled meat and an excited energy will surely attract you inside. It is definitely a popular place to eat for locals with a loud but friendly atmosphere.
The restaurant has no menu. Every single plate, from the starters to the desserts, is a la carte which makes it a good option for tourists to taste various typical plates.
I recommend that you start your dinner with Empanadas de carne (about 5€), their own type of meat-pies. The pastry is light, golden on the top, a bit dry but the meat in the inside is so juicy that you don’t feel the dryness of the pie. The mixture of the two makes a perfect balance of texture in the mouth, as well as the taste: a perfect balance of herbs and spices.
To continue with the main course (from 6€ to 12€ per person) you can choose almost every piece of beef you want to be grilled on a traditional barbecue: cutlets, filet, flank steak, topside of the beef, even tripes, brain etc. Let’s be curious and take the biggest plate for more culinary pleasure :). That one is called Parillada para 2 (about 20€ for two), made with the most tender pieces of beef they have and unexpected pieces of meat you would usually try in a restaurant.
At first sight you might think tripes and brain are fatty or heavy pieces of meat but surprisingly they're not. They surely have a special taste but a delicate one. Eaten with lemon juice it enhances the the taste of the plate and makes it really good. The chorizo is obviously spicy without being fat at all and the blood sausages are well grilled. As for the cutlets we approach the perfection with this surprising woody taste. Finally, we reach perfection with the brochettes of lomo (filets), cooked a point, extremely soft and well flavoured, it melts on your tongue, a bit like butter with a delicious taste of natural herbs and spices. All this flavourful meat is served with homemade potato chips.
There were a few desserts (about 7€), most of them made with typical products from Argentina such as dulce de leche. The Argentinian spread, is not too sweet neither too fat and tastes like a real caramel. Either with custard, ice creams or crêpes, it will surely take delight your taste buds.
To me it is no longer a myth. You can find the most perfect meat in Argentina and it is so far the best one I've tried. I can’t make you believe in this myth before you experience it. What I can assure you is that tasting perfection and reality in a same plate is such a delicious experience and you should go for it.