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DINING OUT: BUENOS AIRES

 

By Alexander Provan

BUENOS AIRES, 3 FEBRUARY 2007—Freud is displayed in the window of every bookstore and colossal flanks of matambre roast on the barbecues of restaurants on every block, from traditional parillas to the industrial chic warrens of the city’s teeming population of handsome sophisticates. The best neighborhoods in Buenos Aires offer plenty of each: Palermo and San Telmo are two of the finest.

The former is a burgeoning enclave of 150,000 that sprawls for miles, containing luxurious high-rises, au courant boutiques and old world pastry shops. Bar Uriarte is exemplary of the neighborhood’s genesis, an industrial space converted into a sleek but comfortable hub for the neighborhood’s urbane denizens, who are likely to congregate here after an opening at one of Palermo’s numerous galleries.

The restaurant features an extensive wine menu, along with a Cortázar quote covering one wall and a spacious gallery upstairs, where DJs warm things up on weekend nights. A lengthy bar runs into an exposed kitchen where Chef Paula de Felipe turns old standards into understated marvels with panache. The veal ravioli and saffron risotto are meticulously prepared and pristinely flavored, and the baby beef de chorizo is among the best sides of meat to be had in the city. Pizza and other dishes from the cavernous wood-fire mud oven rival anything this side of the Mediterranean.

San Telmo, one of the city’s smallest neighborhoods and a longtime tourist haunt thanks to its unspoiled architecture from the fin de siècle, the city’s golden age, hosts a number of tranquil dining spots. In the know gourmands and relics of the neighborhood’s bohemian community crowd Café San Juan, a classic bistro with an intimate ambience and a constantly changing menu.

Start with shrimp and roasted tomato cazuela, a perfect fusion of Argentine tradition Mediterranean sensibilities. Then move on to the meat. A hunk of simmering roasted pork glazed and served on a bed of seasonal sweet potatoes and asparagus; beef de chorizo sprinkled with ginger, sesame and porcini mushrooms; or lamb chops so succulent as to resist any adornment. Homemade parfait with honey is the meal’s capstone and, quite possibly, the diner’s undoing.

Reservations are advisable, as the restaurant seats less than twenty-five.

Bar Uriarte
Uriarte 1572
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 11.4834.6004
$25-35 pesos ($8-12 US) per person

Café San Juan
Avenida San Juan 450
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 11.4300.1112
$30-40 pesos ($10-13 US) per person
Closed Mondays

Alexander Provan has contributed to the Associated Press from Latin America and last wrote on Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto for Culturekiosque.com.

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