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Monday, 5 December 2011

Caseros - Avenida Caseros 486, San Telmo

Hidden away on the wrong side of Avenida San Juan, close to Parque Lezama in San Telmo is Avenida Caseros, a single gentrified beacon in an otherwise badly-lit, shifty neighbourhood. Populated by trendy bars and brunch-serving cafes, among them sits the restaurant Caseros. With floor to ceiling windows and ample lighting, it is noticeable walking by on a dark summer's evening. It manages to look warmly inviting despite the two-storey high ceilings and sparse art-gallery-white walls. Tables and chairs are of the French-rustic variety and the decor nods to a distinctly Scandinavian chic. 

On being handed the menu I am delighted to see there are a number of reasonably-priced seafood and fish options, unusual for Buenos Aires (unless you happen to be in one of the city's many wonderful Peruvian restaurants enjoying ceviche, which I surely will be before too long - watch this space). I opt for a leafy salad with prawns, fresh salmon and orange segments. Jeff chooses Costilla de Cerdo (pork chops) served with watercress salad and potato gratin. My salad is drowning in oily vinaigrette and the salmon, which appears to have been deep-fried, further adds to the heaviness. The pork is decently succulent, but it is the gratin which is the highlight, slivers of potato and onion, velvety and perfectly seasoned.

The towering stack of chocolate and orange
A bottle of Malbec later and having devoured dessert, a towering stack of syrupy preserved orange slices alternated with wedges of quality chocolate - which doesn't quite work as well as we so badly want it to - a porteño on the next table thrusts a further glass of wine upon us. Try it, he tells us, it's the best wine on the menu, good Argentine wine. As we take generous sips, he continues to declare its virtues, proudly emphasising its Argentine origins (unnecessarily so, as the wine list offers only native wines). An epicurean patriot, eager to share life's pleasures. And he is right, the wine is delicious, possibly the best part of a meal which never quite delivers what the flair and ambience of the surroundings promise.

I will certainly be making a return visit to Caseros, but only to the road which bears that name, rather than the restaurant, which has essentially underwhelmed me. There are, after all, a handful of other alluring places to sample - all in the name of research of course - in what appears to be a flourishing neighbourhood.

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