Carlitos Gardel report
- Lisa Bee
Last Friday I went to Carlitos Gardel (Argentinian, on Melrose just west of Fairfax in Hollywood). I've never seen a CG report on the board, so I figured I should weigh in b/c it was a great experience - definitely recommed for carnivores, dates, off beaten path excursions or any combo of the above. I do recommend a reservation, even if just for 2...all tables were filled and there was a wait. It's a small room, but they were able to accommodate a party of 12 @ 9:30pm with 24 hours notice.
We ordered a few bottles of wine from the Argentinian reds selection (we went by instinct as well as the advice of our waiter - all of them were great) and ordered a variety of empanadas (chicken, beef, spinach) for the table in addition to the bread they automatically brought with chimichurra. Chimichurra is a muy garlicky garnish that aparently goes with most things Argentinian.
Virtually everyone ordered steaks, which they boast as "flown in" from Argentina (as opposed to driving them in, I guess?). The steak entrees, including specials, were in the $16-$25 range; chicken, fish and veggie entrees were less. Portions were generous. My skirt steak with mozzarella and tomato sauce was heavenly - melt in your mouth soft and flavorful. It came with very bland mashed potatoes, but some other lucky souls got chimichurra frites with their entrees. I'd ask for a substitution next time - anything to get my hands on more chimichurra.
Everyone enjoyed their food, stuffed themselves silly and doggie bagged what they didn't eat. A couple people ordered a tasty enough flan for dessert...I'm not sure where they put it...I guess they stored it with all the wine in their hollow leg. Considering the amount of wine and food we all had, the bill + tip came out to a respectable $45 per person. You could absolutely have an app, entree and glass or two of wine for around $30-$35.
The ambiance of the restaurant was nicely "Old World" and romantic - they had a violinist who played tango music all night, the walls are decorated with old b&w photos, it's an intimate space. Our waiter was a prince among men: attentive, good food/wine recommendations, patient with the frustrations of dealing with a large party.
Would love to hear anyone else's thoughts/reports on the place!
The emphasis was on quality cuts rather than fancy/unique prep. One of the steak specials was a filet mignon stuffed w/ cheese, others were various cuts of meat served with grilled veggies or mushroom sauce or cheese and tomato...you might try calling them and asking about their specials.
re: Lisa Bee
After noticing it for years and hearing great reports (I also have a faint memory of it being in some head-banging heavy metal video, Motley Crue perhaps?) I can't believe how long it took me to finally go there. My family and I are now serious converts. A couple months ago I savored amazing fries and NY strip steak for incredible prices considering the quality. The cost of a top-notch meal at C.G. barely gets you squat at Ruths Chris or the Palm. Walking home is an extra bonus, both in terms of convenience and the benefit of strolling after a heavy meal.
I am a big fan of Argentine food, tango, and wines. I've been to Argentina three times in the past five years and let me tell you something. Not only does Carlitos Gardel Restaurant serve the most authentic Argentine food I've had in the States, the atmosphere and ambience made me feel like I was in Buenos Aires again. Their wine list is impresive. It has the most wonderful Argentine wines, and a great selection of French and American wines as well. As far as their steaks go, let me just say this: they are the best quality steakes I've ever had. Even better than the ones in Argentina. I've meet the owners, ( a family, by the way, the mother is the chef, and she prepares the greatest desserts), and they've explained how Argentina exports it's best beef, so it's no surprise it's better. Thurdays they prepare the most wonderful paella. They have music almost every day. I know that on thursdays they have a great pianist. I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to experience Argentina, without having to pay thousands of dollars to fly there.