My Experience In Buenos Aires
I know there have been a lot of posts about Buenos Aires, steak, etc and I wondered whether I should append a post to pre-existing threads or whether I should start a new one, which is what I opted for.
I just spent a week in BA. We stayed at the Alvear Palace, which we loved. Sticking to food, our room came with the most beautiful breakfast buffet one could imagine, with seemingly endless warm and cold options as well as a good selection of typical Argentine pastries like pastellitas.
The first night we tried Piegari. We found the food tasty though expensive ($44/person without tip). The second night we went to Plaza Asturias, a Spanish restaurant. We thought it was good though it did not blow us away, for example the pulpo a la galigo was not nearly as good as it had been when we had this wonderful dish in Madrid. A lomo I had was not cooked precisely as I requested, or evenly. The menu is enormous however, and i cannot say we necessarily tried their best dishes.
The third night we tried Fervor, a new and fancy parilla in Recoletta, This ended up being our favorite restaurant, as much for the service and comfort as for the food (more about that later), $43/person without tip.
The fourth night we tried the Peruvian restaurant Status in Montserrat. We loved this place though it is more of the "exciting authentic" variety of restaurant rather than the "comfortable luxurious" type. We had the best ceviche I ever had and the plates were enormous. I don't remember the exact cost but I think it might have been $20/person and we over-ordered.
The fifth night we went to two places, Sagardi, a basque tapas/pintxos place in San Telmo and then we went to La Brigada. I admit I should not have spoiled my appetite at Sagardi before going to La Brigada. Sagardi was excellent, or as excellent as a pintxos place can be and still be authentic, I don't think authentic pintxos are that remarkable but they are tasty. I did not like La Brigada. The people were nice and my steak was okay, though tough and over-cooked. But they put us on a special floor/concentration camp for foreigners and we felt isolated.
The sixth night we went to our least favorite place, a new "hot" "Peruvian" restaurant in Palermo Hollywood called Paru. We did not like it. First, we expected Peruvian and it is actually fusion. Second, the portions were really small. Third, we did not like the food. Fourth, they put us into a special uncomfortable place for foreigners, though they later to their credit offered to move us to more comfortable digs when they realized they had space.
Okay, steak. I realize now that the question "Where can I get the best steak in Buenos Aires" is a silly one. The majority of restaurants serve steak, including cafes, which are places people take coffee and light meals throughout the day. The problem, as other people have written, is that the Argentines are reluctant to serve steak rare. A second problem is that we Americans are used to expensive steakhouses that use technologically advanced ovens to prepare their steaks precisely and consistently. By contrast, Argentines use enormous parillas (grills) and esentially do what I do in my back yard, but better. So the Argentines cannot prepare the steaks precisely and they do not cut their steaks as carefully.
Nevertheless I prefer Argentine steak, despite my never getting it as I ordered it. I tried lomo at Plaza Asturias, ojo at Fervor, and chorizo at La Brigada and a no-name place we had an early dinner at before leaving BA. Argentine beef is completely different from American. It is extremely lean and flavorful, the opposite of American beef. One eats enormous steaks in Argentina and the feeling afterward is a sense of satisfaction, rather than the "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" feeling I get in America.
So that is my report.
What specifically did you have at Sagardi? I've walked by it countless times but have never tried it. Do they have a bar area where a solo diner would feel comfortable?
I am really surprised by the overcooked beef at La Brigada. I've never had anything done there more than medium-rare-ish. I have eaten there a number of times, but generally as a "drop in" and not a special dinner sort of place. They can have an attitude when trying to get a table (i.e. calling for a reservation). Another note about steaks in general. Unfortunately, a growing % of Argentine farms are finishing their beef off with corn. Fortunately the better parrillas aren't receiving this meat. But it is out there. I am also surprised about the general comments regarding meat overcooking because places won't cook your meat well-done because the grassfed beef is just unchewable at that point.
Status sounds like a good selection. Do you know what kind of fish(es) were in the ceviche?
I loved the ceviche at Status! It wasn't a place we planned to eat - we just happened to be in that area and it was time for lunch. We thought we'd order the ceviche as a starter, but decided to go 'light' so I ordered it and my husband ordered something else (chicken, maybe, I don't remember). The mixed ceviche was fabulous and the portion was huge. It came with 3 or 4 different types of corn, potatoes, lettuce and onions. I'm getting hungry just thinking of it.