Restaurant review: Garufa, Highbury Park
REALLY good Argentine food is hard to come by in London. What I mean is the type of restaurant which serves such moreish, utterly irresistibly authentic dishes that a three-day fast is advisable in preparation. Garufa, which opened last year after its cha
REALLY good Argentine food is hard to come by in London.
What I mean is the type of restaurant which serves such moreish, utterly irresistibly authentic dishes that a three-day fast is advisable in preparation.
Garufa, which opened last year after its charismatic owner Alberto Abbate broke away from Broadway Market favourite Buen Aire, serves up the very best Argentine fare.
We started with some superb Argentine empanadas which were much lighter and more sophisticated than the heavy, crust-topped Spanish equivalent.
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But this place is not for the meek: 300 gram steaks are the only main courses on offer: rump, ribeye, sirloin and an exquisite fillet steak.
The fillet is the standout choice, but for the very brave (or ridiculous, as we soon found out) you can plump for the Parillada Garufa - all four steaks on a sizzling grill brought to your table, with a vast portion of melted provolone cheese in the middle and (if that wasn't enough) topped off with an Argentine chorizo and two succulent black puddings.
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The menu suggests this "hearty"-attack-on-a-grill is suitable for two, but it would easily stretch to feed a family of four.
The produce at Garufa is top notch, however the nature of the beast means that the meat sits on the grill and continues to cook, so by the time you have got round to the fourth steak it is very well done, the blood has dried up and it has lost much of its flavour.
We recommend instead the fillet, which will remain at your preferred level of bloodiness and also allows you space to order a couple of cracking side dishes such as Humita Norte�a - fried sweetcorn puree - or chunky chips.
When abroad (or pretending to be, in a foreign restaurant) I always try the local brew and at Garufa beer fans are in for a treat with the excellent Quilmes - a crisp, medium-bodied lager that really hits the spot.
From the restaurant's impressive wine list the smooth Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva 2006 was a top notch Malbec and with great spice and chocolate notes perfectly pairs with all that red meat.
Garufa is authentic even down to the staff, whose relaxed charm and warmth is infectious.
Quality steak is well worth paying for, so if cash is a little tight this month opt instead for one the tremendous value set menus: beer and a burger for under a tenner, listening to old tangos in a classic Buenos Aires setting is a winner every time.
FOOD 4 stars
AMBIENCE 4 stars
SERVICE 5 stars