Recoleta 1343: Cape Town’s Closed Door Opens in Buenos Aires
Review and Photos by Sharon Salt.
When Michelle Raymond let us in to her apartment building, she was all smiles. We walked together down a long, airy corridor with the crown molding and large mirrors you can only find in Recoleta, talking about the closed-door restaurant she had started last July with her husband, Brad Raymond.
It’s called Recoleta 1343, and it’s held in Brad and Michelle’s apartment, which is impeccably decorated and has the largest Buenos Aires kitchen I’ve ever seen.
Brad and Michelle are both from Cape Town, South Africa, but moved to Buenos Aires in 2009. In Cape Town, Brad was the proud owner of his own bistro for eight successful years, so it only makes sense that they would decide to start a closed- door restaurant here.
That night, before the meal, we sat with the other guests in the Raymonds’ living room and chatted over Prosecco and bleu cheese and beet bruschetta. After waiting for everyone to arrive, we moved to the table, where we all sat together family-style. We were served the first course: a cold cucumber soup with homemade herb and garlic bread.
Before opening his own restaurant in Cape Town, Brad worked in a bakery for five years, so all of the bread at Recoleta 1343 is homemade. For this dinner in particular, that included the herb rolls, tartlets, crepes, and cheesecake crust. I am a carb fiend, so trust me when I tell you that it was all beyond excellent.
After the first course, we had olive, tomato and cheese tartlets, followed by crepes filled with wild Patagonian mushrooms, of which I unfortunately did not get a good picture as I was too anxious to devour it.
For the main course, we had beef medallions with a red wine and rosemary reduction, coupled with rustic potato wedges and creamed spinach.
One of our fellow diners was vegetarian and said her main dish was equally to-die-for. By the time dessert came around – a light lemon and lime cheesecake – we were stuffed. But it was so delicious that even that could not deter us, and we all ate as much as we could.
The company, I must say, was ridiculously entertaining, which was only aided by the fresh glass of wine we got with each course. I’ve never laughed so hard with people I just met, and we talked and joked all the way through dessert.
When it came time to leave, we all left slowly, exchanging phone numbers and emails between ourselves and also with Brad and Michelle, who were not only a truly talented chef and very kind host, respectively, but also so sweet. I’ve since been invited to two of the guests’ houses for dinner, and I plan on taking a cooking course with Brad in the coming weeks. I’m crossing my fingers that what I make will come out half as good as his.
As for Recoleta 1343, I can’t wait to go back and wipe more plates clean. Not only was the meal immensely enjoyable, but the company was as well – so if you’re looking for a true closed-door experience, Recoleta 1343 is it.