A friend of mine loves san Telmo. He’s been around 5 times to date and decided to have a dinner commemorating his 30th birthday there.
I walked into the restaurant and the atmosphere was great. There’s the grill out front, tables and bar seating, and a massive wine rack down near the end of the room. Behind that I was shown to the private group seating which was hidden behind the wine rack, but not secluded or disconnected from the restaurant.
Once we were all seated, our waitress for the night came and explained the $60 set menu we were partaking in, took our drinks order then proceeded to explain the Latin American way of eating and the condiment s she placed down on the table (chimichurri and another I didn’t catch the name of which was very similar to Pico de gao).
The starter came out shortly after that, chapa flat bread with olive oil and pickled zucchini.
The bread was nice with capsicum/Pico de gao like salsa, but fell short with when eaten with the zuchinnni due to the lack of defining flavour. It was scarcely salted, had very little bite for a supposed pickle, and lacked depth.
The Chimichurri however had layers of complexity and flavour, and is definitely the best I’ve had. According to my Chilean friend who was dining with us it’s a fairly authentic one too.
After the breads, the Empanada was served and it was great. The pastry was amazing with a delicate crunch, while the beef filling was well spiced. The olive and egg were present but not over bearing. Just as we finished the empanadas the Ceviche was placed in front of us.
It looked good, though upon biting into it a couple of us agreed it needed more time in the juice to become a little more tender. In spite of this all the flavours were all there. The overall taste and mixture of ingredients left me wanting more despite the fish needing more time.
The next two dishes were the Palm hearts, preserved pear, jamon and buffalo mozzarella salad and the polenta, basil and corn chips.
I’ve never had palm hearts before and didn’t know what to expect. They were crunchy and had no defining taste but the crunch of the hearts coupled with the sweet pear, creamy cheese and salty jamon worked really well.
The polenta chips were great, sweet and crunchy and went beautifully with the creamy and spicy chipotle mayo. The only disappointment was the non-existent taste of basil in it.
Next up the chorizo and Morcilla (spiced black sausage, aka black pudding); the chorizo was the best I’ve had since coming back from Spain; house made, cooked amazingly with hints of honey through the spices. The Morcilla was ok, the filling great and the texture good but my preference still lies on the British type of black pudding.
After a 20 minute gap the mains hit the table: Rib eye, Chicken, Short Rib and Flank Steak along with the Burnt Carrots, Cos lettuce salad and Polenta crusted duck fat potatoes.
The Rib eye was the stand out meat (kind of expected), it was seasoned perfect, and had a heavy char grill flavour. Unfortunately it was slightly over cooked at points. The flank on the other hand was cooked to near perfection, but not seasoned as well; however it matched well with the chimichurri. While both were great and enjoyable, I favoured the considerable creaminess and tenderness of rib eye more.
Finally the chicken, charred and juicy with plenty of oil, salt and garlic was altogether great.
The sides were also good, the carrots soft and slightly burnt with the cream and nuts completing the side, while the potatoes were great, fluffy inside, crunchy outside and full of flavour. Definitely worth getting.
Finally dessert. At this point I was too full of food and wine to really take notes but we had the flan and an Alfajor (Argentine cookie filled with dulce de leche).
The 14 of us got quite carried away with the food and wine at San Telmo, our bill topping over $2k but the amount of wine and food we had coupled with the great service and fantastic ambiance was well worth it.
How well it’s cooked (Good, not Great) – 7.5
Flavour (Fatty Beefy meaty) – 8.5
Tenderness (Tender) – 8.5
Overall – 8.2
How well it’s cooked (Rare) – 9
Flavour (Charred Meatiness) – 8
Tenderness (Flank Tenderness) – 6.5
Overall – 7.8