Living in Palermo Hollywood, it seems like there are multiple restaurants popping up on a monthly basis. Although I find most of them a massive disappointment, there was one in particular that I happily and anxiously awaited the grand opening. The master chef couple Estefanía Di Benedetto and Matías Kyriazis, the chefs behind Paraje Arevalo (the restaurant that I wanted to bring me to a telo and make me pregnant), bring us their newest heavily anticipated spot: Local.
Unlike the intricate, avant-gard multiple course Paraje Arevalo experience, Local offers a much simpler rustic offering, while still offering a modern and creative take on old traditions. This time Estefanía is in the kitchen, offer just about five appetizers, six mains and four desserts, aiming to focus on some of the most important aspects of cooking: developing rich, tasty flavors in a modern and interesting way.I went with one of my favorite groups of eaters to get a pretty good taste of what the restaurant has to offer. Usually when a restaurant first opens, I like to wait a few weeks/months until it works some of the kinks out. But with Local only a block away from my apartment, staring me in the face every time I passed by, I couldn’t contain myself and went opening week.I love me a killer bread basket and this one did not disappoint. Whole grain, no grain, bread sticks, dinner rolls – I probably ate my daily calorie allotment right here. First appetizer up: countryside poached egg with vegetables and chorizo, a breakfast for champions. Perfectly cooked with a nice oozy yolk, a good way to start the meal.Eggplant fanatics this one is for you: a roasted eggplant drizzled with olive oil and topped with almonds and arugula. This simplistic appetizer really profiles the beauty of the berenjena, but was perhaps a bit too undercooked and plain for my eggplant liking. Maybe adding some goat cheese or something a bit more substantial for the 40 peso+ price tag would make it more of a winner.Perfection in shrimpz! The flawlessly cooked shrimp, with just the right amount of seasoning, was served on top of pearl barley with tomatoes and a cream-based shmear. Crunchy, with a firm crispy texture and no traces of any chewiness in this bite. Absolute pleasure in the boca.
My ex-vegetarian Jewish mouth is new to the world of porky goodness, so when I see it on the menu, I need to eat what I’ve been missing out on all these years. BONDIOLA-me baby. I especially love me some meats paired with fruit. That savorweet combination of salado/dulce totally turns me on, so pork shoulder with apples seemed like the best choice (despite it being served on top of swiss chard, one of my vegetable nemesisisissss). The bondiola was cooked perfectly, a generous portion with a grand crispy fattycrust bite. However I don’t think I will be expanding my culinary horizons any more with acelga, I’ll never be on Team Swiss Chard.It’s difficult for a hearty plate of meat and potatoes to let you down. The carne asada was slowly cooked, tender, yet with that semi-burnt crust on the outside I love so much. It was served with rustic oven roasted potatoes with a side of a celery-vegetable relish, bringing a crunchy bright earthiness to the dish. Overall a big winner.
Other menu items include dishes like fresh fish, rosemary roasted chicken, pasta and daily specials – extremely warm, comforting and hearty food, yet with a great sense of sophistication. Exactly what you want to eat to make your insides smile.
And finally, for the sweet (but not too sweet) note, a rich chocolate cake with dense chocolate flavor.
Light, fluffy and topped with fresh berries and a smudge of cream, another instance where I just can’t put that fork down.
Quite an inviting atmosphere, the minimal decor makes Local a cool, modern bistro with big windows, natural light, white walls, wooden furniture and a semi-open kitchen to creepily spy on the chef hard at work. As expected, the service is always top notch with a friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff – just like Paraje Arevalo.
The price of the meal certainly did not come cheap. Unlike Paraje Arévalo with a fixed price, Local’s prices run in the 40 peso range for appetizers, 60s-70s for mains and 30s for desserts, a price range to be expected in a place created by such celebrated and talented chefs. It’s a splurge for lunch, but for two people, I’d recommend ordering one appetizer and one main to share, or for *hungry* eaters, two appetizers and a main (or the other way around).
Local isn’t the only new project by two of my favorite Argentine chefs. In the back of this restaurant, Matías and Estefanía have created a new concept in BA restaurants: Casa Arévalo, a mega gastro-casona, consisting of another small restaurant-like space with tables, a sleek kitchen, lovely patio and clay oven. One of the more exciting culinary ideas of the year, Casa Arévalo will be hosting pop-up dinners on a monthly basis. Starting in April of 2012, Gonzalo Aramburu (of Aramburu restaurant) kicked off the tour, teaming up with Catena Zapata winery, to create a special limited four-day only menu.
TC Gourmet (un tour de cocineros) offers a chance for famed guest chefs to takeover the space and cook up special tasting menus, paired with fine wines, offering something really culinarly unique to the local food scene.
Tuesday – Sunday: midday (call for dinner hours)
Average price per person: 120 pesos