I had been curious about the new Argentine place on the cursed restaurant site at Kirby and Hwy 59 for some time; the other night I tried it with a friend who was in town for the evening.
I have never been to Argentina, but my friend has spent a lot of time there and in Brazil. We both enjoyed the evening and the meal a great deal and I will probably go back.
The place itself is really gorgeous. I now know why they spent so much time remodeling it. It bore no resemblence at all to Scottsdale's, one of the former occupants of the site that I visited once about four years ago. The decor is rustic, yet elegant. It reminded me very much of an Argentine steak house I visited in Aruba.
We had oven-cooked empanadas as an appetizer. The waiter recommended the oven-cooked variety, over the more typical deep-fried ones. The meat filled empanadas were the best I have ever had. The savory chopped meat filling was exceptionally tasty. The corn and cheese filled empanadas were also very good, but were overshadowed by the excellence of the meat-filled ones. The menu also featured some other appetizers and several salads that looked promising.
The entrees were almost entirely comprised of various cuts of beef, which was fine, since we had come with the express purpose of eating good steaks. We both chose a ribeye cut. I liked my steak and enjoyed it a good deal, but it didn't knock my socks off. My friend enjoyed his more than I did, so perhaps I was just being a little too critical. If you are looking for some of the unusual organ meats that are common in Argentina, you will have to look further, however. I didn't see any tripe, sweetbreads, or other offal on the menu at all.
Another note: if you want your steak cooked medium rare, order it medium. I ordered mine medium rare and it was definitely closer to rare. My friend ordered his medium and it was the perfect hot pink medium rare color on the inside. His steak also had a nice char on the exterior, which mine lacked. All of this information was described in my menu, my friend later pointed out to me, so it's probably my fault my steak wasn't cooked exactly as I wanted it.
We had scalloped potatoes and asparagus on the side, which were both very nice. We also enjoyed a nice bottle of Spanish Rioja with the meal. I don't recall the vineyard. The wine list featured a wide variety of South American and Spanish red wines, as well as the more typical California ones.
Neither of us had room for dessert and I didn't scrutinize the dessert list carefully.
Overall, we had a great time. I would give the atmosphere an enthusiastic endorsement. It was a nice break from the typical stuffy/snooty steak house atmosphere typical of places like Morton's, Capital Grill and Pappas Bros. While my particular steak wasn't out of this world, it was quite good, and I think that mine would have been excellent had I just ordered it medium. That said, I will most likely go back for a second look.
As far as the prices go, they were up there, but not off the charts. Dinner for two including two large steaks, empanada appetizers, two sides and a nice bottle of wine came to $105, before tip.
If you want to eat some good beef and enjoy an atmosphere that is fairly unique (for Houston, anyway) and comfortable, I would recommend trying El Buen Bife Grill.
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