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Food & Drink Blog

In search of an Argentine steak in Salt Lake City

by Stephen Dark
- Posted // 2011-10-21 -

Every city I go to, I scour the listings for an Argentine restaurant. After six years living in the United States, I still crave a long, two-bottle lunch in Buenos Aires and walking back to my apartment for a nap. Now, it appears, Salt Lake City has an Argentine restaurant once more, although I doubt wine will be on the menu.

I've heard of various attempts to open an Argentine restaurant here, including one in Trolley Square, where the owner flew in meat from Argentina. Just the thought of it makes my mouth water. However, folks who dined there said that while the meat was indeed extraordinary, the simplicity of the food was its downfall. Americans, it appears, like their grub jazzed up so it's more of an event. 

Today, I am going to Taylorsville to try out Tango Mixed Grill. Go here to check out its menu and listen to a couple of tangos and Argentine folklore while you browse. Their facturas, Argentine breakfast and tea croissants, biscuits and the like, look particularly tempting, but it's hard to photograph grilled meat with much allure.  

I fear that alcohol will not be on the menu, however, which will make it a tad indigestible for my palate. Liquor licenses being what they are -- beyond gold dust, available to the well-connected i.e., those who are leasing space in City Creek -- I imagine my steak and salad will have to be accompanied by Diet Coke, or probably water. Sigh. 

I'm taking my kids, who love to chow down on empanadas and steak, the food of their early childhood. We've found some more-than-serviceable examples of such dishes here in Utah, including the Argentine Corner in Clearfield, but that's too far to go for food that I constantly yearn for, so somehow I end up never going. Not that I haven't constantly sought to recreate -- usually with less success than I would have hoped -- Argentine parrilla (barbecue) and other dishes at  home. 

This weekend, for example, I will be cooking on a disco de arado, a disc that was used to till the earth back in Argentina, then had a rim and legs fused to it. All it needs is a strong, wood fire beneath it to get the iron nice and hot.   

Being English, I do at times crave food from the old country. I went to Elizabeth's a few times, admired its cuisine, but not its prices. The one English lunch I truly miss is a ploughman's with a pint of beer, but that's as much about location -- an English country pub -- as it is about the taste of the English cheese, tomato, beer and suds. So that will probably not be a delight I shall ever enjoy here.

There is, of course, that gem of English cuisine, the steak and kidney pudding, made with beef fat rolled in flour, but Americans seem to turn their noses up at the thought of eating the lusciously unhealthy kidney, so I end up having to order a dozen of the lovely organs and then cooking them on the grill or, a personal favorite, in a port and cream sauce with some fried bread and a glass of Guinness. Yummy.  

The one thing that gives me hope about today's lunch is that matambre con rusa is on the menu. Mata hambre (hunger killer) is a tough cut of meat that has to be slowly cooked, pulverized, then rolled with eggs and some vegetables in the middle. It's then cooked in the oven and served, sliced thinly. I recall discussing with Taylorsville justice court judge Michael Kwan, himself a great lover of cooking, the delights of preparing a similar dish.

I'll post tomorrow on how my foray into Argentine cuisine went today.  

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