I read a lot of restaurant reviews. Some are quirky, talking about strange dreams had while eating inslata caprese. Others in poetry form, or from the perspective of their pet parrot.
There are some that like to name drop some of the fine restaurants they’ve been to around the world. Snobby buggers. You need to connect to your audience, not alienate them.
When I was in New York last we wandered down from our hotel on 5th to this great Argentinian steak restaurant. I remember it was smokey and dark and we were crammed onto the end of the table, shouting to our neighbors beside us. I also remember brilliant cuts of beef, cuts I’d never had again until visiting San Telmo.
See. You don’t need to name drop.
Serving entree, main and dessert is almost the alternative now, eating in Melbourne these days is all about the share plate, the tasting menu. San Telmo doesn’t drift from the staple that Chin Chin and Mamasita have made famous. Complimentary Chapa (flat bread) with picked zucchini was a surprising start and the board of cured meats (bresaola, salami and jamon) were exceptional examples of finely selected produce.
White fish cerviche was a little bland and lacking chilli or ginger but the fried provolone was delicious and salty. Burnt carrots another surprising addition, though I think it missed it’s opportunity to really play with the burnt texture. Burnt was just mildly darkened.
The chroizo was a standout, smokey with the light scent of paprika tickling your nostrils as you savour it. Again, it seems they’re excellent in picking brilliant produce that stands on its own, without tricks from the kitchen.
Having said that, the half chicken from the grill was soft, moist and expertly cooked. However, it significantly lacked with its minced garlic seasoning. In fact, I wonder if they forgot the garlic.
But we don’t head to an Argentinian restaurant without tasting something from the parilla (char-grill). Now there’s no scotch, rib eye or eye fillet on the menu here. Instead, we have flank, hanger, rump cap and strip-loin.
Don’t mind if I wiki this one? So cudos to you if you already know what a Hanger steak is, but this self confessed meat lover had no idea, and so they all got the wiki treatment.
Again, its a significant nod to the dedication of an authentic Argentinian eatery. All steaks were cooked perfectly, brilliantly camermlised on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside, maybe a little under-seasoned.
I wonder though, is a $79 wagyu steak happy to be “a well cooked steak”, or should it expect it to be the perfect steak?
There is something else of note at San Telmo. They are one of the few eateries that serve a beer called Estrella Damm Inedit. Its a beer crafted by a “foodie” called Ferran Adria and a few others of his team from elBulli. Just a little place that won best restaurant IN THE WORLD. 3 times running. Wonder if he writes a blog too?
Now this beer is remarkable. It’s so subtle, designed to be a beer to be drunk with food. My suggestion that its also a beer that could be drunk with… another beer. For me, it would be the best beers I’ve ever had.
Nothing like making a big call in a lowly blog living off the streets of North Melbourne.
So San Temlo. You’ll leave happy. The relaxed, friendly and very efficient staff make sure that your meal was as successful as the produce that carries it. A few creases that this blogger wants to whinge about but otherwise I have to recommend it.
And not just for the beer.
San Telmo is located at 14 Meyers Place, Melbourne