This place always seems to be busy. If you walk in unexpectedly either by choice or by chance, there is a good probability you will end up being sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen and the Parrilla, the Argentine charcoal grill. That is not a bad alternative considering the wonderful smell of meat wafting from the kitchen however despite anticipating being taken back to our most primal origins over this meal, we were seated like gentleman in the dining room.
It took an unusually long time for the server to come over and ultimately explain the menu and of course take our drink orders. No matter really as pleasant conversation was on offer however I was really thirsty for some strange reason on this occasion. It must have been because I had been walking around the CBD previously combined with the fact that I was lusting after the meat on the Parrilla, knowing what my destiny held.
A bastardised Long Island Ice Tea was served, however this was a Malvinas Island Iced Tea. It didn't appear to have many nips in it and at times I confused it with the mineral water that was ordered. Considering that the cocktail was $20, I could think of twenty other places in Melbourne that would do a better one and be also cheaper, but alas.
I was excited to try the Argentine fried pastry, the Empanada. Two different ones were available and I decided on the beguiling provolone, mozzarella, basil and capsicum ($6/each) offering. The pastry was ornate and contained gooey cheese goodness and was not overwhelmed by the capsicum. I really liked how the food was starting off using the Empanada as a baseline and was excited to have more.
Chorizo ($14) followed. How can you not visit an Argentine eatery and not get a pork and paprika sausage? As expected, and I had high expectations at the time, the chorizo was simply amazing. Full of flavour and engorged with goodness, this was unlike any chorizo that you are used to being served in Melbourne. Even with two people sharing it, there was a substantial amount of meat and everything which I would find that we ordered on the menu would prove to be great value for money.
Wanting desperately to get meat from the Parrilla, orders of Cuadril De Cordero ($30) -200g of pasture fed lamb rumb and a Entrana ($36) - 300g of O'Conner premium pasture fed hanger steak were ordered from the grill. The meat was delivered sliced and grilled to a perfect medium rare. Charred on the exterior but pink on the inside, I greedily tried both types of meat and we agreed that the lamb rump was the best. Not taking away from the hanger steak as it was good in its own right, we both preferred the taste of the lamb rump and went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that we both shared equal parts of the beast. Zanahorias ($13) - burnt carrots with thyme and goat's curd was ordered as a side. The carrots were lightly scorched on the outside and when matched with the goats curd and the sliced meats were absolutely amazing in their own right.
Between the open kitchen and the chefs working the Parrilla, the back bar which was lively, decor that would leave a vegan trembling and diners seemingly enjoying themselves, there was a good buzz in this restaurant. Although it can get rather loud at times, the volume suits San Telmo. Although I found to be disappointed at times by service, and lack thereof, even witnessing the table next to me having to chase down the server on foot to get the bill after waiting for a while, it was the only glitch to an otherwise great experience with Argentine fare.
14 Meyers Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9650 5525
(03) 9650 5525
My Rating: 14.25/20
Value For Money: 4/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com