San Telmo

February 11, 2013

14 Meyers Place, Melbourne

And we’re back! Much like Troy and Abed in the morning, with a grin and a mug of tea in my hand, I am back from the deep dark abyss of my summer internship. I won’t go into any of the gory details, but will just say that I’m glad to have my weekends back and am looking forward to making up for lost time blog-wise! Four weeks since my last post is a very long hiatus: here’s hoping my creativity hasn’t been completely crushed by corporate life!

We’re starting off February with a really fantastic restaurant that I’m hoping heralds the spread of Argentinian cuisine in Melbourne: San Telmo!

Sitting along Meyers Place, a street which in my opinion has improved 150% over the past 18 months, San Telmo is known for offering Argentinian meat done over a charcoal grill. Inside, the restaurant is dark and exudes old world luxury – accommodating leather chairs, cow hides, walls of wine bottles and a tiled floor complete the rich and warming look of the place. It’s polished without being uncomfortable, and upon walking in you already feel your tastebuds tingling for a steak.

The wine list is very impressive and strictly Argentinian – we enjoyed a bottle of 2010 Enamore, a blend of Melbec and Syrah, among other varieties. Made in Mendoza in the Andean mountains, it was a deep and spicy red and married perfectly with the red meat we ate.

The service here is also very good; well-informed, polite and approachable, it reminded you of what real service is supposed to be like.

Their beautiful menu, covered in cow’s hide, isn’t large but covers the essentials well – a number of good cuts of meat plus a few fish dishes.

We came here with no misunderstandings – we were here to eat beef, and lots of it. But a scallop ceviche with lime, orange and radish was a refreshing starter, even if I thought the lime segments were a touch dehydrated.

A plate of empanadas followed, hot pockets of cheesy goodness encased in crisp pastry. The fillings change regularly but ours had provolone, mozzarella, basil and capsicum.

The menu leads on to a large section of dishes “desde la parrilla”.  The custom made Parrilla charcoal grill is undoubtedly the cornerstone of San Telmo, installed by a man who flew over from Argentina just for the task! It’s a bit of a beast, and guarantees that all meat served up is smokey, charred and deliciously juicy.

A plate of Tira de asado, O’Connor pasture fed short ribs weren’t my favourite from the evening (I found them a tad tough), but teenage brother wolfed them down.

The special for the day was a dish of beautifully soft, sweet and fatty lamb ribs. They had been marinated in some sort of sweet sauce and then cooked for four hours until sticky and bronzed. Sensational.

I hear the chorizo is great here but we just couldn’t look past the morcilla. And holy hell was it good! One of the best blood sausages I’ve ever had, this was soft and spicy in all the right ways.

Finally, the piece de resistance, the Bife de Chorizo. I know, the name confused me too, but turns out that it means “striploin” in Argentina. A juicy, charred, iron-heavy steak, this was just sublime. Could have easily had the whole thing myself with a glass of red and been very content. For those of you interested in all the fancy details: 400 day grain fed Wagyu striploin, marble score 7, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Moving on from the meats, San Telmo offer an interesting range of sides to go with your mains: a popular choice is the Zanahorias,  burnt carrots with thyme and goats curd. I absolutely loved these, a fantastic contrast between sweet and salty.

Our second side, great but somewhat outshined by the first, was the coal roasted sweet potato and spring onion (we must have been in an orange mood).

My plate looks small in this photo but it’s a trick of the eye – the knives they give you to eat with are like goddamn machetes, making everything else look smaller. I forgot to mention earlier that each table also gets small pots of chimichurri and a milder salsa. General consensus was in favour of the chimichurri, a tangy and garlic laced accompaniment to the beef.

Check out the beetroot colour coming through that wagyu! Delicious!

We were woken out of our steak-induced reveries by the dessert menu, which is also reflective of Argentinian cuisine.

Mum had the Alfajor, an Argentine cookie filled with dulce de leche. As delicious as she thought this was, she rightfully commented that it was more something you have with coffee and less of a stand alone dessert.

The boys each had a chocolate mousse, made with Valrhona 80% dark chocolate and topped with blueberries. Extremely rich but delicious.

Not to diss on the other desserts, but mine was the clear winner in the looks stakes! Golden flecks of salted peanut praline littered the plate around a wobbly, shining creme caramel. A final spoonful of dulce de leche and I was a very happy woman.

“Very happy woman” is a good note to finish this post on, I think. I was extremely impressed by San Telmo, it’s an all round winner for me and I am very much looking forward to revisiting!

San Telmo on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Argentinian, Melbourne CBD