A hot summer’s day is a glorious excuse to enjoy the best that London has to offer, and so we set off for a day out in Greenwich and ended up at an Argentinian restaurant – the Buenos Aires Café. We started our afternoon with a meander around the National Maritime Museum’s Great British Seaside photography exhibition. How wonderful to enjoy the images from Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts – we Brits are a dotty bunch and never more so than when on holiday. If you get a chance, do check it out, it runs until September 30th.
A Royal Day Out
We’d picked the day of the Royal Wedding for our jaunt and together with the sunshine that meant that everwhere was packed. Top tip: if you’re hoping to avoid a Royal occasion, heading to a Royal Borough is probably a silly thing to do. After wandering through Greenwich market and treating ourselves to an interesting new art piece in the form of a hand-cut paper picture from a great little gallery, Wei’s Paper Art, we were tired and thirsty so it was time for an early supper. Luckily, given the crowds, we’re getting a little bit wiser after very many incidents of fully booked restaurants and empty tummies, and had booked ahead.
The Buenos Aires Café looked really interesting on Open Table and it had an airy conservatory space that was tempting on a hot day. If you listen to the podcast you’ll hear us wonder why the photographs around the place seemed to be of random celebrities – that’ll teach me to do my research first. The restaurant was founded by Reinaldo Vargas, an Argentinian former dancer and choreographer who has also been a paparazzo photographer! It was a shame that the personality of its founder wasn’t reflected in the space, instead it was rather bland and lacked individuality. The front of the restaurant looked more interesting, but we were swiftly ushered to the ‘nicer space’ at the back.
Now we were eating much earlier than normal, and perhaps that’s why we never really relaxed into the evening. Plus I had selected a meat-heavy menu although I’m not a great carnivore – in my defence, I was thinking of A., who loves the occasional steak. As they say in the restaurant “Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish who think they are British”, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that the options were steak, pasta or pizza.
To start we selected some small plates to share from an extensive array, and very tasty they were too. We enjoyed the Berenjenas, marinated grilled aubergine, and the grilled sweet Jalapeno peppers. My favourite though was the Chorizo Malbec – a crumbly textured sausage that oozed flavour. A gripe was the bread selection, charged at £3.95 – I rather expect bread to be offered as part of the service, especially when it’s really needed to accompany the starters.
Moving on, unfortunately the meal went rather downhill for us. I had a disappointingly tasteless pizza – I had opted for the Buenos Aires, hoping that the house special would be the star of the show. It wasn’t – just a rather tasteless ensemble and even the parma ham and artichokes, a great combination in my book, couldn’t save the day. A. had the Churrasco rump steak with sides of spinach and sweetcorn in the form of Humita a la olla. The last was the highlight of the main course and I’ll be trying to make it at home!
I really fancied dessert, and although we were coming to the end of the time slot that had been allocated to us (way to make your diners feel welcome guys!) we squeezed in a shared pud of Sopa Inglesa, a trifle allegedly made to the recipe of the owner’s mother-in-law. I can only assume they have a strained relationship. If you don’t have trifle dishes, please don’t serve it in an ice-cream flute. The result is a mass of custard and cream with very little room for the tasty fruit at the bottom. We both love trifle, and this was disappointing.
We had a chat about our meal the next morning:
The evening certainly wasn’t one that we’ll be in any hurry to repeat, but perhaps we were unlucky because the place was certainly busy. A. said that he just never felt comfortable, and that’s all about the ambience which just wasn’t warm or welcoming. It was an expensive mistake too at close to £90 for two.
Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★☆☆☆ Extremely basic for such a nice looking restaurant and the Ladies had an unfortunate aroma which didn’t help.
Buenos Aires Café, 15 Nelson Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9JB Saturday, May 19th 2018