Friendship Luncheon at Roux Resto
When I moved to Buenos Aires at the ripe age of 23, fresh out of college, mostly (read: completely) skill-less and ready to drink as much fernet and coke as it took to transform into a porteño, I was above all things, poor.
My first real apartment was a two bedroom in Abasto that came adorned with a leaky faucet, broken kitchen window, questionable stains on the walls, and a furnace that por suerte didn’t explode. There were four of us crammed in there. We slept on the cheapest mattresses we could find (on the floor) and “decorated” the place with furniture mostly made of things we found in the street (tied together with string from Ugis) and a couch that smelled like a wet dog, all working whatever jobs we could get to scrape together a minuscule amount of money for rent (and a little extra for said fernet). But we made the best of it: we covered the nail holes with wall to wall art, danced at home rather than go out, and threw monthly bring your own bowl stew parties for our like-walleted friends.
It was also around this time of financial craftiness that the friendship sandwich was invented. I was working with one of my best friends, Allie, and the Barrio Norte lunch prices just weren’t working for us. The solution: two rolls from the supermarket, one tomato, an avocado, a few slices of ham and a squirt of salsa golf. This, and the good coffee we stole from the boss, is mostly what we subsisted on for the year or so that we worked together.
And now here we are. Four years later, four years awesomer, new jobs, better apartments, and more forgiving wallets. We’re eating a seven course lunch just a few blocks from our old office at Roux Resto. I’m also wearing a silly hat, her index finger bejeweled with a giant bird ring, and we’re giggling at how fancy we get to be for the afternoon, which also happens to be my birthday. In preparation for so much class in one meal, she watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey (hence, Friendship Luncheon) while my choice inspiration was Mad Men (hence, the classy fedora).
Roux is a diamond in the rough when it comes to the fairly barren Recoleta food scene. A small corner restaurant that has seats for about 30 people, Roux is a simple space that caters mostly to the local crowd. Chef Martin Rebaudino’s small menu has a wide array of dishes that highlight Argentine ingredients and plays around with texture, color, temperature and taste combinations. Everything is beautifully plated without that over the top Michelin bating pretension.
We began the meal with hummus and a shot of creamy and slightly spicy gazpacho. We spread it on little rolls that tasted like they’d just left the oven.
Then came the llama carpaccio appetizer. The thinly sliced Andean llama was delicate and tender, with garnishes like pickle that gave it a fantastic depth of flavor and mustard seeds and capers that added crunchy textures.
Followed by my other favorite dish – if a gun was put to my head I’m not sure I could choose between this or the llama. The griviche is a selection of shrimp, calamari, salmon ceviche, and squid that was as soft as butter, all served on a bed of cous-cous and a cilantro emulsion. I would’ve been happy to call it a day if they’d only served me a plate of that baby squid.
We continued with shrimp (no complaints here, give me all the shrimp). Rebaudino’s prawns were skillfully cooked right up to that point of no return. They were tender and juicy, and paired perfectly with a gooey soft boiled egg and wild rice.
The spider crab ravioli with saffron and cream sauce had a delightful pillowy texture, with subtle flavors that were combined wonderfully with tiny pickled tomatoes. As opposed to a wine pairing, each dish is paired with a different olive oil. My palette isn’t refined enough to genuinely differentiate one olive oil from the other (I know good from bad, but not good from better), but the subtlety of this dish gave way to the excellently paired oil.
When we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, the Patagonian trout with green quinoa arrived. The fish had a fantastic crisp exterior with a hearty trout flavor. I appreciated that in many of the dishes simple ingredients like tomato, pickled vegetables, sprouts or grains were repeated to tie different dishes together. It gave the meal a familiarity; you could sense the presence of the chef with each changing plate.
For dessert we enjoyed a meringue with frutas rojas ice cream, and a lemon flan with grapefruit ice cream. The helado is made in house, and the fruit flavors were a refreshing way to end the meal.
Going to Roux is a celebration within itself, and also a wonderful treat for a long (we spent three hours there) meal with a friend.
NOTE: The restaurant is celebrating its one year anniversary with a special three course menu with wine pairings available June 8th through the 20th. You can see the full menu on their website (link below).
Roux Resto is located at Peña 2300 on the corner of Azcuenaga. Open Monday – Saturday for lunch from 12pm – 3:30 and dinner from 8pm to midnight.