Remember the year 2000? The fear that perhaps the internet would be lost forever and the world would collapse into digital chaos? I was not one such sceptic. I spent the millennium celebration in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I indulged in huge steaks, drank exceptional wine and watched fireworks light up the sky. There is something so enchanting about Argentina, and on the 14th February, I was taken right back to the enchantment when I paid a visit to the Che Argentine Grill.
Che Argentine Grill in Maboneng, Johannesburg has a great story to tell. Oscar Faraldo from Uruguay and Argentinian Bernado Corti met by chance and soon struck up a friendship and together with their love of food they were selling Bernado’s homemade empanadas at Market On Main. This would be the humble beginnings of Che, as quickly the empanada business boomed into a restaurant and Che was born.
Che Argentine Grill has a vibrant & relaxing atmosphere
The restaurant is relaxed, and you’d be forgiven thinking that you were perhaps in South America for a moment. The atmosphere is vibrant and hip and the outside terrace area at night is what makes Maboneng so unique.
Bernado’s grandmother’s cooking inspired the menu, using only the best quality ingredients for their authentic favourites. Che’s list would not be complete without those delicious homemade pies that started it all, the empanadas! Filled with a delightful variety of flavours and served with a homemade tomato dipping sauce and fresh lemon.
But what I love the most about Che Argentine Grill’s cooking is the carne! Ah! Meat, meat and more meat grilled to crispy, juicy perfection! There’s a lovely “no frills, no fuss” approach to the way Argentinians cook steaks. A little goes a long way in producing natural flavours (no sticky marinades here, folks!) Just a little salt before it’s put on the fire.
A mouth-watering menu!
We tucked into our empanada starters with gusto, pockets of heaven! Hubby had the slow roasted lamb shank, and I, the “spider steak” (also known as the butcher’s steak – cut from the inside hip) both were tender and full of flavour. Of course with meat, comes chimichurri, a delicious accompaniment made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar.
We paired our meal with a delightful and might I add, reasonable, bottle of Argentinian Malbec from the San Juan region. To top it all off, we enjoyed flan served with delectable homemade dulce de leche – a staple for any self-respecting Argentine.
Dance the Tango with a sangria in hand
The bar menu is varied, with local craft beer on tap, sangria and an assortment of carefully selected cocktails. On selected Tuesday nights you can reserve a table and watch the “dance of love” as Tango dancers romance the floor. Live music is often showcased at Che, and we were serenaded by an Argentine vocalist and double bass player, perfect ambience for Valentines!
Bernado and Oscar are always on hand and stop by your table often, ensuring that your experience is of a high standard. The staff are busy rushing up and down but never too busy to assist all their patrons.
If you have not been to Maboneng, try it out. Being in the heart of Joburg is wonderful. Make sure you visit Che Argentine Grill, you will not be disappointed.
By Natalie Major
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