Haute cuisine in a hole-in-the-wall. Yes it´s possible! Having already read some rave reviews of El Zanjon, we ventured over to San Telmo to try it out. San Telmo is the most historical neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and a land of misfits. Beautiful old Parisian and Art Nouveau-style buildings, some painstakingly maintained while others crumble, sit beside graffiti-covered warehouses and line garbage littered streets. A few of the best restaurants in Latin America stand beside empanada take-out joints. It´s fascinating and lovely. As such, El Zanjon perfectly represents the vibe of this barrio. An unassuming place, with plain brick walls, a few black tables and simple chairs, and a little counter offering a glimpse into the tiny kitchen behind. And a chef with previous stints in a Michelin star restaurant and as a consultant for Aramburu, well-known as one of the finest restaurants in the city.
The menu is small and a bit eccentric. The wine list is ever-changing and each only 2-3 options are offered – but you can be sure they will be good. We ordered a bottle of Torrontes from Salta and started to peruse the menu. From the small plates we sampled roasted carrots – served with yogurt and zatar. They arrived charred and sweet, with the tangy yogurt as a perfect offset.
Next up, the squid fritters – crunchy and light batter around generous amounts of tender squid, atop a creamy lentil puree and rich chorizo slices to top it off.
From the Medium plates, we started with beef tartare – served comically on a bone, with sour hints of pickle, crisp toast, and rich bone marrow fritters.
The pickled catch of the day was mackerel – with beets cooked several ways.
But the favorite for all of us was the deer pate, which of course, I managed not to take a photo of. The deer was presented both as a pate and a terrine, the terrine composed of shredded tender flavorful meat, the pate creamy and softer. Served with more toast and a potato remoulade. Seriously good food. The price tag is incredible for the quality, the atmosphere is fun and relaxed, and the beer and wine are cold. You can find El Zanjon del Gato here.