Closed door restaurants are all the trend in Buenos Aires. With restaurants like Casa Mun and Casa Felix frequently making appearances in the press and top restaurant lists of the city, the local people of Buenos Aires are well aware of this unique dining experience. If you are not familiar, the idea is simple. These restaurants are “secret” establishments, usually held within people’s homes, that provide intimate dining experiences and limited, weekly changing menus. The type of food and atmosphere of each differs, but with weekend only hours and reservations needed, they are becoming increasingly popular among the diners of the city.
This weekend, my parents were visiting us here in Buenos Aires, and we took the opportunity to try a closed door in Colegiales called Treintasillas run by Chef Ezequiel Gallardo. Marked with a bright red door, you would likely not even recognize the space as a restaurant upon first glance. However, after the host answers the door, you are guided into the dining room and are seated at one of the tables that resemble many of the other intimate dining experiences of the city. Despite its name meaning “thirty seats,” the restaurant itself holds only twenty and has a local yet warm atmosphere.
Upon seating, we were served still or sparkling water, and began to look over the wine list which was creatively placed on the side of a used bottle of wine! Since the menu is set, we requested a recommendation from the server to accompany our meal and decided on a Zuccardi Q Tempranillo from 2007. They felt that the structure, yet elegant flavors would complement our four course meal and bring out some of the unique and delicious flavors. We would have to see! I immediately noticed the plumy and ruby color, and my first hint of aromas brought on a bouquet of figs or cherries with hints of vanilla and smoke. The taste, however, brought out some additional spices, a hint of raspberry and a touch of oak that seemed to really give the wine both a balanced palate and a long, smooth finish. But how would the wine pair with our food?
Our dinner began with a potato and leek soup with crunchy pancetta that was not too heavy or creamy before sampling a cherry tomato and goat cheese salad with fresh arugula. I’m not sure how well I felt the wine went with these dishes, but it certainly didn’t take away from either flavor. Once our main course appeared, however, I realized why the waiter had suggested the pairing. We were served creamy mushroom risotto topped with grilled shrimp that was cooked to perfection. This course really brought out the woody notes in the wine, due to the earthiness of the mushrooms and the creamy parmesan of risotto pair very well with the bold flavors of the wine. I could easily see us also enjoying this bottle with a nice steak, since the heavy notes paired well with bold flavors and the wine really held its own. Delicious! To finish the meal, we were served a rich and decadent chocolate soufflé with hints of cardamom and cinnamon, topped with cold, smooth vanilla ice cream. Even here, the vanilla in the wine paired well as well as the rich and hearty dark chocolate, leaving our palates eager for more but our stomachs full and satisfied.