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Posts from the ‘Steakhouse’ Category

Shovel Time: Matasaburo

I was thinking Kobe beef might be a better thing to eat in Osaka than Tokyo since Kobe and Osaka are geographically close to each other, though I don’t know if that’s true. It might be like how I assumed there would be good Thai food in Malaysia since those two countries share a border and was sorely disappointed.

I was really tempted to try Steak Misono because it’s the original teppanyaki restaurant a.k.a. The O.G. Benihana. It originated in Kobe but is now a chain, so I thought better of overpaying for something potentially gimmicky and touristy. Also, wagyu sandwiches seem to be all the rage. Well, at least they were a few years ago and now this $180 nonsense is washing up in America. I’m curious but not that curious.

Anyway, I ended up choosing a modern yakiniku style restaurant, partially because its tagline was so irresistible: “The Beef Wonderland.” Also, you could make online reservations, an anomaly in Japan, as long as you could decipher the Google translated text.

You can order a la carte but I didn’t trust myself to pick the optimal cuts (plus, my dining companion isn’t as enamored with tongues and intestines, “horumon” in Japanese,  as I am) and I have an awful time mentally converting grams to ounces and an afraid of getting charged like $100 for a petite piece of meat, so I went with a set meal.

The show piece is dry-aged Kuroge wagyu (there is also Tosa-Akaushi, a brown cow from Koshi) which is cooked for you on the charcoal grill. The marbled piece of meat gets tended to periodically, turned, placed closer and farther from the flame, and strategically covered in foil.

I was kind of overwhelmed by the whole meal (and was spatting off and on–no, not about offal). Strangely, the meat was just a fleeting memory. I should have parsed the flavor and savored it more.

Meanwhile, other dishes are presented like wagyu tartare on toast and boiled peanuts, which I had no idea was a Japanese thing. Oh, plus smaller cuts of beef we got to grill ourselves.

The savory portion of the meal is finished with curry rice, which seemed odd as that’s a substantial dish, but was odder when we were warned it was spicy. Nothing in Japan is truly spicy so I mentally called bullshit. It really was spicy, though!

This is the point I would split a dessert if I had to but probably wouldn’t order one at all. They thought I was nuts saying we could share one, so I picked an eclair even though I wanted the sundae I had seen brought to many tables. The dining companion ordered it and turned out to not be a sundae at all. The parfait glass contained a god damn fruit pile (and soft serve). Fruit is not a dessert and there is no such thing as nature’s candy!

Matasaburo * 2 Chome-13-13 Nagai, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, Japan

International Intrigue: Ikinari Steak NYC vs. Tokyo


ikinari steak interior duo

Tokyo vs. NYC

Unlike the first US outpost of Afuri, the Ikinari Steak that popped-up near St. Marks in that international chain mini-district held down by Ippudo and Tim Ho Wan, was almost identical to the one I visited in Shibuya, just swapping Japanese staff for locals. Oh, and also that it was at capacity while the similarly sized Tokyo branch was maybe one-third full also around 6pm on a Friday night. A line started to form at the cutting and weighing counter and a good-natured staff member who was acting as ring-master, shouted a few times, “Stand close to the wall as you can!” which definitely wouldn’t happen in Japan, though no one seemed to mind.

ikinari steak cutting

Four cuts of steak were offered in Japan: rib-eye, tenderloin, US Angus beef sirloin, and Japanese beef sirloin. Hamburg was also an option–hamburg steak is rampant in Japan–but maybe that doesn’t translate to the US. I chose the latter, 200 grams, and the most expensive at 10 yen per gram. The US is also using grams (though they provide a handy conversion table on the menu) and lists rib-eye, filet, sirloin, and a combo of scraps. I went with the cheapest cut, sirloin at 8 cents a gram, also 200 grams.  I paid roughly the same price: $17 in Tokyo and $16 in NYC but clearly the US’s prices are higher. Both are non-tipping restaurants, though, which I love.

ikinari steak duo

Tokyo vs. NYC

You’ll get the same corn on the side, browned garlic and butter on top, and onions underneath, which get great char as they mingle with the juices. This is not dry-aged prime steak, though it’s not quite the Tad’s (r.i.p.) of Japan either. The sirloin was not supermarket steak bland, picking up smoke from the grill, and the little rim of fat adding extra lushness (if you prefer lean, just ask the butcher to remove it). You can add garlicky soy-based “J-sauce,” garlic paste, mustard, and wasabi, which are stationed at the standing tables. I don’t recall that it was recommended you order your steak rare in Japan–there are lots of signs stating this in NYC–I ordered medium rare both times. Rice and salad (radish or green) are extra. I skipped salad this time because I don’t care about roughage, but they are selling bottled dressing at the register so I guess someone likes it.

ikinari steak basket

I also love the foldable baskets for storing your coat and bag, found at Japanese restaurants everywhere, some taking the form of little hammocks adhered to the bottoms of bar stools,  though there was only one allotted for my face-to-face solo standing table, and the gentleman before me had commandeered it. (I’m also in love with the current season of Baskets, just FYI. Louie Anderson is genius as Christine.)

ikinari steak order

You verbally tell the meat cutter what you want here while you brought a little wipe-off card, filled out by a server, to the counter in Japan. This wouldn’t be a bad idea in NYC since I had to repeat myself a few times and with the crowds, the staff has high potential to become overwhelmed. 

They really think of everything.

They really think of everything

ikinari steak facade duo

Tokyo vs. NYC

I did not eat at this Bunkyo branch (there are over 100  locations in Japan) but I only just noticed the same style basket outside with what I assume to be clothing freshener. The East Village facade is more minimal, no menus out front, though there is a photo, out of frame, of the same executive chef.  

I haven’t even mentioned the standing concept yet because it’s not really that weird, though Americans prefer to sit even for tapas. There’s no one rushing you, and you can have your steak re-heated if it gets cold. Of course, it’s not leisurely either, and supposedly the price reflects the high turnover. This also reminds me that the Japanese Michelin-quality standing restaurant that was promised for Manhattan in 2013 never came to fruition. Perhaps the seeming success of Inkinari Steak may pave the way for similar concepts.

Ikinari Steak * 90 E. 10th St., New York, NY

M. Wells Steakhouse

threeshovelIf you’ve heard anything about M. Wells Steakhouse, it’s that steaks aren’t necessarily its strength (oh, and that it’s hidden away at the ends of the earth amidst a bunch of grit and rubble–never mind the towering luxury dwellings and five subway lines running less than four blocks away). That makes perfect sense for a restaurant sprung from the contrarian Québécois school where more is more and things are never what they seem.

Prices, portions and descriptors can be at odds. Can a lobster tail really be $10 when the caviar sandwich is $50? Should one pay $60 to eat something called a Dog Bowl? I knew that the $25 side of beef butter was actually a small steak, but where does that fit into the meal?

m wells steakhouse shrimp on shrimp

Two of the things I did want (Solomon Gundy, bison rib eye) were already unavailable at 8pm on a Sunday. Not that that didn’t leave plenty of other choices; the menu is sprawling. I would’ve preferred the excess of the smelt and trout egg waffle to the shrimp on shrimp, which is exactly what it sounds like, plus cocktail sauce and the flavor of Old Bay.

m wells steakhouse onion & bone marrow soup

The onion and bone marrow soup was more like it. Who cares that the gratineed beef gelatin enriched with pork belly, caramelized onions, and yes, containing a scoopable bone, hardly qualifies as a soup. This is the M. Wells-ian decadence people–and by people, I mean me–want.

m wells steakhouse dinner

The steaks were ok. Or maybe I’ve just been unduly influenced. I had to nix the châteaubriand for two because that tender cut is like the steak fries of steak. And that’s not a positive. The côte de boeuf probably would’ve been more up my alley, but the Minetta Tavern price tag was not.  The grass-fed Kansas strip had moments of greatness. Medium-rare was exactly that and some bites had nice char and punches of minerality, but overall it was a fairly innocuous piece of meat. That said, the half I saved for dinner the next night was one of the better things I’ve eaten in my apartment this year. It’s all about context.

m wells steakhouse t-bone

The T-bone was more what I wanted–fat and flavor–though my dining companion preferred my strip steak, which only proves that meat is very subjective.

m wells steakhouse pommes agliote stretched

Sides were more fun. Potatoes come five ways and the aligot, more cheese and butter than actual tuber, is the one to get if only to test its elasticity with a fork.

m wells steakhouse salsify & black truffles

Salsify with shaved black truffles was almost candied, as the roots were browned in copious amounts of butter, bringing out the natural sweetness.

After all this (and a Manhattan and a bottle of Russian River valley pinot noir that I can’t recall) dessert wasn’t entirely needed. I wanted to see the fabled dessert cart rolling about the former garage’s floor (as long as I live, I’ll never forget the two sweets trolleys at Robuchon a Galera in Macau) but that wasn’t the drill. Next thing, I’ll find out that the trout are already dead and caught elsewhere and and that there’s not going to be freaking catamaran at all.

m wells steakhouse pavlova

At least a pavlova is light. The meringue shell was drizzled with a passionfruit sauce and branded with gold leaf. The interior contained blood orange curd.

The menu is ranging enough to pay an additional visit and try all different things. I’d be up for a non-steak second meal, not because the meat was all that disappointing but because other dishes are just more interesting.

M. Wells Steakhouse * 43-15 Crescent St., Long Island City, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Bone-In Steak, Birthday Cake

Costata tomahawk steak

Costata Eating at two Michael White restaurants in almost
the same week is kind of odd. I’m not a fanatic or anything. But it was a
birthday dinner option and I took it (Maggiano’s in Bridgewater, NJ–don’t
ask–and Mission Chinese were also tossed into the ring. The Elm might’ve been
the best choice but I don’t like to pick my own special occasion meals) because
I was up for something meaty and I wanted to see if the room was all D.C. style
because I love corporate hotel chic (it’s not that bad) and if it was all
blobby blowhards in suits. No, strangely, there were lots of groups of 20-something
ladies in sausage casing Vegas/Meatpacking dresses drinking cocktails and
primping in the bathroom.

Costata duo

Get the tomahawk rib-eye if someone else is paying and skip
the pricey crudo (I’m not lumping oysters into that) even if they are. I don’t
care about pasta, so farroto with bone marrow and parmesan and the broccoli
rabe with fennel sausage worked as sides. Go wild and drink Spanish Rioja instead
of Barolo (I don’t care about expensive Italian reds either). Though dry-aged
for 40 days, the steak isn’t super funky. Some slices had that hyper-meaty edge
while others were mild and tender, maybe too much so. You don’t really need
black truffle butter, but after $118 for a slab of meat what’s another $3?

Cata razor clams

Cata After reading about the rising price of raw bar fodder,
and the $21 razor clams at Costata in particular, the shellfish sauteed with
garlic and olive for $14 sounded like a relative bargain while having a giant
pre-dinner gin and tonic flavored with kaffir lime leaves.

Cata kaffir lime leaf gin & tonic
Also $14, and though I recently boo hoo’d about
this cocktail price point, these drinks are long-lasting, not gone in four
sips, and potent as two normal gin and tonics.

Cheesecake duo

Cheesecake Factory Sure, you can go to Edison and discover
Indian food if you’re friends with Floyd Cardoz
, or you can eat at Cheesecake
Factory in the mall. I first stumbled upon this part of New Jersey (I have not
forgotten about the Post-Millennium Chains of Middlesex County, by the way) in
2005 when looking for America’s first Uniqlo
(which will soon be returning to
the Menlo Park Mall, plus Staten Island and that horrible Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn
shopping center with the Target) that served as a testing ground for Soho then closed. I prefer other chains over Cheesecake Factory (the
martini with blue cheese olives is three dollars cheaper at Bonefish Grill,
which is only one reason why I love Bonefish) but the Thai lettuce wraps are a
classic appetizer in all their glorious unauthenticity, and the fried chicken
salad was more demure than I’d anticipated size-wise (that’s not a negative).
And yes, there was a slice of turtle cheesecake involved.

Green symphony salad bar

Green Symphony is the bizarro Yip’s (R.I.P.?). It’s also one
block from my office like my former love, but this by-the-pound buffet is
greaseless and healthy and borderline Little Lad’s (also R.I.P.) even though
it’s not vegan or even fully vegetarian (there is organic chicken in various
guises). These piles include a cucumber salad, broccoli rabe with pine nuts,
curry chicken salad with fake mayonnaise, edamame salad, wild rice salad,
quinoa salad and some tofu mushroom thing. I can dig this.

Worst birthday ice cream cake ever

Baskin-Robbins The West Coaster in me wanted to blame
Carvel (Baskin-Robbins is also an East Coast brand, but ubiquitous–I’d never
heard of Carvel till later in life) for this ice cream cake disaster that
supposedly bears my name, but it was the handiwork of a Brooklyn
Baskin-Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts hybrid shop. My name is not aes (?) for the record.



Cattlemen’s Steakhouse

Cattlemen's t-bone steak

Cattlemen’s, an Oklahoma City meatery that remains much of its 1940s charm, serves a George Bush-approved T-bone.

Ronald reagan & gene autry at cattlemen's
I went for the rib-eye, instead, gnawing the medium-rare meat with Ronald Regan and Gene Autry as witnesses.

A server who spoke like a caricature of already-caricatured Kenneth on 30 Rock suggested the popular lamb fries, which I knew were breaded and fried testicles even as a city slicker.

Cattlemen's ribeye

We just stuck with the steaks, which were better than I’d expected, juicy, a little fatty, not complex or dry aged, but hardly the dull Outback Steakhouse slabs they’d been compared to on Yelp (Yelp and surprisingly active, Urbanspoon, were practically all I had to go on in this region). You would be crazy to go to Oklahoma City and not pay a visit to Cattlemen’s, for the experience alone.

Cattlemen's salad

Dinners come with a requisite heavily dressed salad (get the thick and garlicky house dressing).

Cattlemen's meal

And warm, fluffy rolls and a baked potato, little scoops of butter and sour cream on the side.

Cattlemen's bar

I didn’t even mind the half-hour Friday night wait because there is a spacious rec room-style bar upstairs where you can sit beneath a wagon wheel chandelier, watch big screen TVs and drink Shiner Bock or a big bottle of Double Deuce, brewed specially for the restaurant. No one will blink twice if you’re in a cowboy hat and boots.

Cattlemen's smoking room

There is also a self-contained dining room just for smokers, a still-thriving species.

Cattlemen's exterior

Cattlemen’s Steakhouse * 1309 S. Agnew, Oklahoma City, OK


Capital Grille

The lord giveth…and taketh away. I eat at Capital Grille, the Darden-owned steakhouse would feel more appropriate in the downtown of a mid-sized city, and then mere days later discover that Little Lad's, my favorite vegan, Seventh-Day Adventist restaurant hidden in the basement of the same Financial District building, has packed up and moved into a Lower East Side church. I somehow feel responsible for setting this chain of events into motion.

Capital grille interior

Even though I only work three blocks away, it’s not like dining at Capital Grille crosses my mind with regularity. At lunch its business is drawn from surrounding offices, at night, especially on a Friday, the showier than expected—live band, taxidermy, and a private dining room in a former bank vault—bi-level restaurant was luring tourists hard. Camera in hand, I was certainly pegged as one. Using a 30% off discount from Savored might have not helped my case either (hey, Savored is classy—I do think getting rid of the Village Vines name was a good move). This does not bother me at chains. If there’s one thing they’re good for, it’s serving as Manhattan havens from the food trend obsessed.

And how trendy could a steakhouse from the people behind Olive Garden and Red Lobster be? (To be fair, it’s much higher end brand than their LongHorn Steakhouse.) Meat and seafood is the story.

Capital grille starters

Chilled oysters (of what provenance, I couldn’t even tell you) and lobster-and-crab cakes with corn relish. I like the lemon wrapped in netting touch.

Capital grille steak & fries

A medium-rare porterhouse with a good amount of char, fattiness and the slightest bit of funk (which I like). Even as a chain-admirer, I tend to stay away from Outback Steakhouse and its ilk because the beef barely has flavor. This is a real steak with a real steak price ($47) and real calories (980–one oddity of being a chain is that the menu must list them). Truffle oil was in the air, so I acquiesced and shared a cone of parmesan truffle fries (only 30 calories less than the steak).

Capital grille vault-1

The bank vault. Capital Grille is not the only restaurant on Broadway with such a feature.

Playing tourist at capital grille After you’ve been identified as a tourist (this generally only happens when I’m in other countries, and it’s really weird when you’re traveling alone, taking pictures of your food and someone, especially a guy, asks if you want your photo taken and you have to say yes because that seems like the right answer even though you might not like having your picture taken) that the inevitable, “Do you want me to take a picture of you?” question arises. I don’t, because the result is generally horrifying.

Garbage across the street

If I were a tourist I might be bothered by the amount of garbage piled up across the street.

Capital Grille * 120 Broadway, New York, NY

Bud’s Hut

I now understand the fear of the unknown and how it drives suburbanites to chain restaurants. It's one thing if you live in a metropolis rife with thriving unique eateries or dwell in a cutesey smaller city like Portland (my favorite whipping boy) where the indie ethos is pervasive. Local is likely better. But when franchises are the norm, as with most of the New Jersey townships within an hour's drive from NYC, non-chains can be a scary prospect. Just what are you getting yourself into?

For years, I've had a fondness for the US Route 1 corridor spanning Linden to Edison. There is not a single mall store or chain restaurant you can't find along this strip. I particularly like the northern chunk just off the Goethals Bridge because it reminds me of 82nd Street in Portland, or at least the 82nd Street of my youth.

I intentionally drove along it all the way to Clackamas Town Center last Labor Day weekend instead of taking the freeway (I love saying freeway, not turnpike, expressway, parkway. It's free!) and it still appeared to be a blur of car dealerships, taverns, motels, thrift stores, vendors selling rugs out of vans. No gentrification yet (Portlanders aren't so desperate and crushed by rent prices to expand the borders of acceptable neighborhoods into the hinterlands—right before I moved to NYC I lived on 55th and Glisan and that was really pushing it, 39th being the invisible line between cool/uncool neighborhoods) just new unexpected businesses like a drive-thru banh mi shop.

Bud's huts

Along this multi-laned road sits Bud's Hut, a sullen, windowless, dark wood anomaly that would be just at home in the Pacific Northwest. Its impenetrability implies bar or something more illicit, but it's advertised as family friendly. In the three-second glimpse I get in the passenger seat, there never appears to be many cars in the parking lot. There is no hint that it's a dive harboring a specialty like Rutt's Hut, the better known New Jersey establishment sharing half a moniker. In this era of user-generated content, not a single peep online only made me more suspicious. A restaurant untouched by Yelpers and Foursquarers?  I'd have to take matters into my own hands the old fashioned way.

Saturday at 9pm James and I met up with three others that I'd coerced into solving the Bud's Hut mystery. It actually wasn't all that mysterious, as a member of this party only lives a few towns over and had been before, some time ago (and got food poisoning).


The décor was more nautical than I'd anticipated from a hut, a little '70s colonial with firm sweepable carpet, faux Tiffany lamps and boats and ships galore. Not seedy, just faded.

Only two other tables were occupied in the dining room and soon enough we had the place to ourselves. Our friendly waitress, who was as interested in the new Dee Snider reality show as we were, announced, "You can be as rowdy as you want now." After a few glasses of Yellowtail Shiraz, I was getting there. And really, Bud's Hut is probably better suited for drinking. The bar and outdoor patio still had decent crowds when we left.


The menu is based on favorites: steak, seafood…and a bloomin' onion with Italian-American staples like chicken parmesan and linguini with clam sauce (I think that's actually angel hair pasta). Garlic crabs, another New Jersey Italian thing, were also being advertised but cracking crustaceans is always such a hassle and better suited for the outdoors.


We started with Bud's Triangle, which is to say, a trio: loaded potato skins, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers just like you'd find at a chain restaurant. Bud's Hut is a little Outback Steakhouse and a little Red Lobster with prices in the same range. They also have a mud slide on the drinks menu, so I'll add a dash of T.G.I. Friday's for good measure.


I had the stuffed shrimp, split and packed with buttery breadcrumbs and crab, and a baked potato with butter and sour cream because that seemed like the thing to do. I only eat baked potatoes in restaurants like this. The only thing missing was the bacon bits.


A steak and seafood combo served on an iron fish-shaped plate.

Stained glass

A bull memorialized in stained glass.


While the latest Best of Central Jersey awards are littered with chains, Bud's Hut appears to have swept a few categories in 2007 and 2008.

Me with bud's hut parrot

The parrot kind of breaks with the maritime theme. He would be more on trend at Cheeseburger in Paradise, a little farther down Rt. 1.

Bud’s Hut * 906 US Rt. 1, Avenel, NJ

Le Relais de Venise

Le Relais de Venise is responsible for cutting my lunk-headed
attempt at banning sugar, starch and alcohol from my diet for the month
of August three weeks short. I am weak in the face of golden skinny
fries and inexpensive red wine. $20 bottles of drinkable Bordeaux? I

Relais de venise exterior

Locations already exist in London, Barcelona and Paris, where the restaurant originated. I can’t put my finger on why…well, maybe the maid outfits the all-female servers wear combined with a blind Francophila (I’ll never forget the story about Japanese tourists in France being so traumatized by rude treatment they had to go into therapy)
but I can see Japanese loving this place. And from what I understand
the no reservations policy creates line-ups in other cities. No such
thing on an early Friday evening in Midtown. This could be the result
of the office-heavy location, lack of awareness or possibly because New
Yorkers don’t like their steak soft and sauced.

Relais de venise salad

you will be ordering steak since that’s the only entrée on the menu.
The $24 prix fixe includes a salad with a mustardy tarragon dressing
and walnuts and steak frites in two portions. This quirk is intended to
keep the food warm; plates are kept at side stations atop little
flames. It could also induce panic to Americans accustomed to big fat
slabs of meat rather than a fan of rosy protein that could fit into the
palm of your hand.

I do prefer minerally beef with fatty rims
and charred exterior, pale pink inside, but I can appreciate non-aged
sirloin as well. I’d take this over Outback Steakhouse, you know, just
for chain comparison. Oddly, medium-rare is not a choice. Degrees of
doneness start at bleu, go up to rare then jump to medium (let's not
talk about well). We took a chance on the medium, banking that it would
be on the rare side. It was.

Relais de venise steak frites

sauce is butter rich, herby and possibly flavored with liver. That
sounds a little odd but there was an unmistakable offal funk in the
background. I actually preferred the sauce with the fries, which were
perfect in their golden yet still pliable form.

Relais de venise interior

is swift. Despite only a handful of the tables being occupied in the
spacious corner restaurant, courses came quickly. Our seconds were
brought before we had polished off our firsts. My barely eaten fries
were topped off and made equal to James’s pile that had a deeper dent.
Advice to fried potato gluttons: the more fries you initially eat, the
more will be replaced.

Relais de venise cheese plate

dessert list was surprisingly long. We opted for cheese since I was
still operating under the delusion that I was detoxing (though I’ve
gone soft on alcohol, bread and potatoes I do restrict my sugar) and
fat is preferable to me than sweets. Comte, brie and a blue of some
sort were a nice finish. For only a few bucks more you can get a glass
of port with your cheese but we still had wine to carry us through.

don’t have a good feeling about this location and the concept seemed to
confuse many who walked up to the window menu with only one meal
listed. But it’s definitely worth at least one try even if you’re not
in the immediate neighborhood.

Le Relais de Venise * 590 Lexington Ave., New York, NY

El Trapiche

I was hesitant to stray from steak, but I’d gotten it into my head that matambrito, something mysterious and porky, was the thing to order at El Trapiche. I’d read it in more than one place and it was advertised on a board posted outside the front door. It must be true.

El trapiche interior

I’ll admit that I wasn’t fully sure what matambrito was. I’m still not sure. I thought it would be a big solid edible object, possibly like a miniaturized matambre (stuffed flank steak).

There were at least three different versions of matambrito on the giant menu. We picked matambrito al verdeo mainly because that was the one advertised outside, and figured it would have to have some sort of green component. That was as good as I could come up with.

El trapiche matambrito de cerdo dish

And it was fairly accurate; the green came from scallions. The pork appeared to have been grilled, sliced and sauced, not cooked in the liquid, which kept the crispiness and smoky qualities intact. It was a perfectly likeable dish, yet there was something about it that felt just slightly Chinese even with roasted potatoes instead of rice. We referred to our leftovers we carried around the rest of the night as Chinese food.

El trapiche jamon crudo

We started with jamon crudo. Why not double up on the pork intake? We also drank a bottle of Trapiche Malbec, a bodega that has no relation to the restaurant.

Yan kie Amusingly, after dinner we walked past a Chinese restaurant, Yan Kie, on our way to Acabar for a drink (where I was baffled by their playing Best of The Cure followed by Best of Paul McCartney and 1:30am closing when I wasn’t ready to call it a night yet). If I had more than a week to burn in Buenos Aires I might’ve eventually broken down and tried arrolladitos primaveras and cerdo saltado con salsa agripicante, which I’m guessing are spring rolls and sweet and sour pork.

El Trapiche * Paraguay 5099, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Don Julio

Steak for dinner is logical. It’s even an appropriate breakfast partner for eggs. But somehow steak just doesn’t seem like a lunch food. I quickly got over my narrow minded thinking, though.

Don Julio was intended as full-blown dinner destination the night before but after walking all day I was too burnt out to walk the 25 minutes or so to get there (we went to El Trapiche instead). I couldn’t let this parrilla slip of my schedule completely.

Don julio arugula salad

I started feeling uncomfortable about the lack of vegetables being ingested in vacation so we ordered an arugula salad. Well, it came with a shitload of provolone and sun-dried tomatoes, so no, not terribly healthy. We were brought olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a tiny pitcher of lemon juice to craft our own dressing. This seemed to be commonplace in the city. I was just going to mention how you never see crap like thousand island dressing, but I take that back. There’s a popular condiment called “golf sauce” served with things like hearts of palm and avocados and it’s totally mixed mayonnaise and ketchup.

Don julio media ojo de bife 

Being the middle of the afternoon we split an ojo de bife, we didn’t want to get bogged down, but frankly we could’ve easily eaten one each no problem. There’s definitely a problem with sizing consistency in Buenos Aires. We never knew if we were over or under ordering. If you’ve been following along, the first ojo de bife we ordered could’ve served six.

This is the amount of fat I like on my steaks. Is that wrong? It’s kind of a different beast than the NYC Peter Luger (no S on the end of I’ll gouge you with a dull steak knife) porterhouse standard. I didn’t encounter much bone-in meat, but that’s probably due to my ordering. I really shouldn’t reminisce about food like this while eating. I was totally fine with my tilapia and blue berries (on the side, not together) until I started thinking about charred edges and grilled smokiness.

Don julio chinchulines

Chinchulines (intestines) were mine, and mine only. This was a half order and it was plenty. I would’ve loved to sample a whole range of offal: sweetbreads, kidneys, tripe and so on, but that’s just not doable without a crowd joining in. I honestly don’t find organs offputting. These weren’t tough, just chewy with a bit of snappy bite and a creamy texture. These are not the same type of long, skinny intestines you get a parrillas in NYC.

Don julio chimichurri

This is the first place where we received condiments: chimichurri and a chunky onion one. I’m still not clear on when they crack out the chimichurri. In my brief experience, it seemed that we only got the herby sauce when we ordered meat in addition to steak. Things like innards or sausages.

Don julio

Don Julio * Guatemala 4691, Buenos Aires, Argentina