Ironically, I’ve started writing this as the Argentinian Pumas are staring down an All Black team performing the ever-intimidating haka. The Springboks have just been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by the Wallabies at the quarter final stage, so we’re feeling pretty down. Ah well, next time boys.
Date visited: 18 August 2011
Sod’s law. As I mentioned in the Hungarian restaurant in London post, my sister was in town. I took a day off work and we had grand plans of heading north to have a picnic on the heath, taking in some galleries, doing a spot of shopping and finishing the day off with some sun downers on the South Bank. We got no further than Camden. When we exited the station we were faced with a down pour which had pedestrians wading ankle deep and playing at fencing with their umbrellas. We made it to the Stables where we hid under the eaves and browsed for as long as we could handle the hordes of tourists, before we admitted defeat and took shelter in a pub whiling away the afternoon with chatter and gossip. And I introduced Dominique to the wonders of pear cider. The day couldn’t have been lovelier!
We tore ourselves away from the pub only when our grumbling tummies reminded us that it was time to start thinking about dinner. Clinton had chosen Santa Maria Del Sur, an Argentinian restaurant in Battersea and we headed back south to meet him there.
Santa Maria Del Sur was firmly spoon fed to popular culturalists when it won Gordan Ramsay’s the F Word – best local restaurants, the Americas category. We believe, however, that the credits are firmly due. It only took a pavement view of the grill to tantalise our taste buds and the restaurant’s interior with its warming red tones and twinkling candles and fairy lights, transported us from the puddle sludge of the streets and the storm clouds which had burgeoned while we were underground.
Looking back at the photos from the evening and thinking about our choices of cuts of meat, it’s becomes difficult to decide who had what and which is which. Did Dom have the bife ancho (11oz grilled Argentine Rib-eye steak)? Was it Clinton who had the bife de cuadril (10oz grilled Argentine Rump steak)? Did I choose the churrasco a la parrilla (8oz grilled Argentine Sirloin steak)? No no, Dom had the bife de cuadril and Clinton had the bife ancho, or did I have the bife de cuadril and Dom had the churrasco a la parrilla? (Throws hands in air!) It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the meat was succulently cooked, dripping and flavoursome, and we walked away with little beef babies.
At either end of our meal we also shared a spicey chorizo and the heavy and rich provoleta (grilled provolone) and a beautifully and uniquely presented (see photo) don pedro (ice cream with nuts and whisky) and cheesecake de dulce de leche (milk toffee). Perhaps it was all a bit much, but celebrating my sister’s visit to London couldn’t be anything but extra special and topped with a meal to remember.
Verdict: While we have to try new restaurants every time we eat out in order to continue ticking the countries off the list, I am tempted to take my Dad to Santa Maria Del Sur during his upcoming trip to London. The only person I would dissuade from eating there would be a not-such-a-big-fan-of-meat, but I have a feeling that if such a person 1) existed (the horror!) and 2) visited, they would leave the restaurant a meat lover!
PS The Kiwis knocked the Pumas out of the tournament. They are going into the finals head-to-head with Les Bleus. If the Kiwis (finally) take the cup, I think we should find a New Zealand restaurant in their honour, but not before I have updated these posts!