Eating the World: an A-Z of London cuisines is my plan to taste the world’s finest food without leaving my home city.
In this series I’ll be visiting some of London’s coolest and yummiest restaurants in order to discover the role that migrants and migrant cultures and cuisines have played in making London one of the best cities to live and visit, on the planet.
A is for Argentina!
What better place to start the round the world A-Z tour than in Argentina, and Garufa, a lovely smallish restaurant in Highbury, which has been around since 2008.
Garufa is the first joint venture from Argentine trio Alberto Abbate, Gustavo Vazquez and Ernesto Paiva. The three came together through a shared passion for food and wine, but more importantly the food and wine of their homeland and a desire to let London in on their secret. (From their website).
The interior is cosy, and we’re led to a small table for two near the bar. For a Friday at 8ish it’s not too busy, which is pleasant and the service isn’t rushed.
The menu is pleasingly authentic to my untrained eye. There doesn’t seem to be any “British mixes” on here – the type of dish that you’re made to think is traditionally foreign but it’s really watered down or “Anglofied” to fit the market. It feels authentic and it’s all making me hungry.
We bypass the starters, although they look lovely; empañadas, croquettas, and Argentinian black pudding. As a northerner I’m itching to try the black pudding. Thankfully, the Parrilladas – Argentinian mixed grills for two, contain some of this intriguing sausage, so we opt for the bigger one of the two- Parrillada Garufa with fillet steak, ribeye, sausage, peppers, aubergine and cheese. I’m in meaty heaven.
The black pudding that I’ve been keen to try is a bit more meaty than British black pud, but pleasant. The cheese is a good accompaniment and balances the buckets of meat in front of me. In fact I could do with more cheese and less meat. Definitely less meat.
These guys know their steaks and it shows: it’s cooked absolutely perfectly. As you’d imagine for a steak restaurant. I admit to not knowing my t-bones from my ribeye, so you might want to know a bit more about the cuts before you decide which one to plump for…. But I’m sure the waiters would help out if need be. Thankfully, I was eating with a man who knows steaks
This really is a sharing platter; if you’re not hungry, this isn’t the plate for you. But if you’re looking for quality, perfectly cooked steak, and lots of it, it’s the business.
Of course as you’d expect from an Argentinian, Garufa had a perfectly stocked wine cellar full of gorgeous local wines. After consultation with the eaiter, we selected an Argentinian Malbec (and I am partial to malbecs from argentina especially) which perfectly complemented the steak.
Eating the World verdict: 8/10
Don’t come to Garufa expecting a light plate unless you pick a couple of smaller starters, but the parrillada is really the place to be. That is, as long as you’re not a vegetarian.