On a beautiful September Saturday evening, the More Than Food team headed off to CHE Argentine in Parkwood to experience this traditional Argentine eatery in its new location. For my two dining companions this would be a completely fresh experience. Having attended the launch earlier in the month, I was keen to see how dinner would compare. Well let me start by saying the evening was just as outstanding. The owners and staff aim to deliver a magical dining experience to all their diners.
CHE is a very different beast at night and if I found it inviting during the day it was even more so under the soft candle light on the tables. On arrival we relaxed on the comfy couches outside and enjoyed a welcome drink. There is little doubt that this outdoor space is going to be an absolute hit with patrons as we head into the summer months and it is great to see the venue putting it so such great use.After a long chat outside with Oscar, one of CHE’s founders, we moved inside to be shown to our table by Bernardo, Oscar’s partner in crime, in his ever charming style. Both these gentlemen ooze charm and a true passion for what they do. They exude such pride while discussing CHE’s humble beginnings and just how far it has come since. Before settling in to dine we were whisked off by Bernardo for a tour of the kitchen. It was great to be able to chat about how the food is prepared, where it is sourced all whilst standing with the chefs watching it happen before our eyes. Everything is fresh in CHE’s kitchen and is cooked over various wood burning coal grills. Everything is prepared from scratch and much to the delight of the three of us, there is not a drop of tomato sauce to be found. It’s just authentic Argentine flavours.
Back at the table we enjoyed a bottle of Malbec along with some breads and salsas whilst our starters were prepared. Argentina is famous for its Malbec – truly outstanding and very easy drinking wine. For starters we were presented with the Morcilla (blood sausage), a selection of Empanadas (homemade Argentinian pies) and Croquets de hongos Trufados (Mushroom Croquets with truffle oil). The Morcilla, which had been thinly sliced into rounds each then placed on a crustless square of toasted bread and topped with salsa, was divine. Full of rich flavours with the salsa just leaving a gentle afterglow on the palate. It also comes as no surprise that the humble but expertly prepared Empanada is where CHE’s roots lie. I am not usually a fan of pies as I find them heavy, often greasy but like all things in life there has to be an exception and for the pie, CHE’s Empanadas are exactly that! They are small, beautifully baked and full of flavour. The Mushroom croquets were pleasingly earthy. All round these flavours got our dining experience off to a grand start.
On to the mains. A selection of dishes chosen by our hosts from the extensive menu. Seeing as we had a non-pork eating diner in our party, the Pecho de Cerdo (pork belly) which I had enjoyed at the launch was not served. It must be noted though that this is an exceptional dish. Our meat selection arrived on a mini grill to share. CHE’s signature Costillar (short rib cooked for 4 hours), the Ojo De Bife Con Hueso (rib eye steak) and the Pollo Deshuesado (grilled deboned chicken marinated in lemon, garlic and oregano). The accompanying sides were Vegetaleas de Estacion asados (roasted vegetables), Papas fritas a la provenzal (chips with garlic and parsley and Ensalada Mixta (mixed salad with a mustard dressing). With steak it is always tricky to get it cooked to your exact specification and with three people who all prepare different level of char, you would think the chef was on a hiding to nothing. The rib eye was cooked to perfection. Each of us were able to sample pieces that were rare, medium rare and medium well. A huge thumbs up to the gentleman at the grill. This steak was seasoned with just salt and pepper and melted in our mouths. It is beautifully marbled throughout and lives up to the menu description – mouth-watering! I don’t think I have ever eaten a that was quite as tender and succulent as this. It was bursting with flavour, simply gorgeous. The short rib was in a word, amazing. The combinations of all the various flavours left us feeling content and fulfilled.With barely enough space left it was time for the dessert selection. Flan Del Rio De La Plata (the flagship cream caramel with dulce de leche) and The Alfajor Helado (layers of pecan nut biscuits, dulce de leche ice-cream, chocolate glaze and a mixed berry sauce). Neither is overly sweet, but both have a flavour profile that is off the chart. These desserts were savoured, with every spoonful. If you are going to dine at CHE Argentine, make sure you leave space for dessert as this selection is out of this world and just rounds off the meal perfectly.
Overall this was an evening to be remembered and not just because of the great food. CHE Argentine is outstanding, the staff are immaculate and deliver customer service at a truly international level. Bernardo and Oscar are 5 star hosts that know how to an evening that is in a phrase – Simplemente Maravilloso