Thankfully, it’s not all steaks in Buenos Aires. With some perseverance–as in, walking from San Telmo down Microcentro on the way to Recoleta–you can find a small restaurant tucked away from the busy streets. I wanted to experience the action of the city during the day but this proved sort of eh especially when you come from New York City. My companions were already starting to whine because we had been walking for at least two hours. I insisted on Restó for lunch after reading about its use of fresh ingredients in my trusty Knopf map guide and I kept telling them that all the walking will be worth it. My reputation was at stake. Restó better be better than good.
We finally found it behind the Central Society of Architects storefront an hour and a half before they were about to close for the rest of the afternoon. We felt like we’ve been in the jungle as soon as we walked in. The restaurant was a haven of cool air and quietness; we were sweaty and hungry. But all of us lit up as soon as we perused the menu: Rabbit! Quail! Fresh basil! Watermelon! We’ve been in Buenos Aires for two days and we’ve never seen watermelon on the street. And a menu without steak? Que horor! But a most welcomed change for our stomachs.
I found out later that chef-owner Maria Barrutia trained under Ferran Adriá. I swear that tidbit wasn’t mentioned in my guide book. Restó and I were meant to be! The menu changes almost daily, depending on what’s fresh in the market, and everything is cooked with so much skill and care that we couldn’t help but elicit an mmmm after every bite. The tomatoes were plump and bursting with flavor. The onions were sweet so they weren’t just a side; they were part of a whole dish. At Restó, I was thankful for the rock salt, freshly-ground pepper and the chive blossoms on my butter–attention to such detail make me appreciate those who work in the kitchen. (Note that most Buenos Aires tables leave their steaks unsalted and you’re left with table salt and pepper.)
You’ve just gotta trust me on this one.
Restó is on Montevideo 938 in the El Centro neighborhood. Lunch is a very good deal. Dinner requires reservations, so call them at 11/4816-6711.