By Jano Tantongco
Cafe Buenos Aires has been a pioneering presence in Argentinean cuisine and was one of the first establishments to bring tapas to the tables of diners, bringing the Spanish tradition to Huntington patrons.
Owner Hugo Garcia said he had dreamed of opening up his own Argentinian restaurant ever since he had opened his other restaurant, Bistro Cassis. But, he didn’t make concrete plans to do so, since space in the village is typically in short supply.
However, as soon as he learned that Margarita Grille closed its doors 10 years ago, he quickly jumped at his chance.
“Ten years passed, we are still here, I hope we can be another 10 years,” Garcia said.
As a special of the day, the fresh Lobster Salad brings together avocado, heart of palm, and bits of corn with orange and grapefruit juice. The hearty chunks of lobster are accentuated by citrus flavors with creamy avocado with the occasional bit of heart of palm to make the dish truly rich yet refreshing.
The Octopus ($15) small plate featured a crispy and chewy octopus served with unique Peruvian potatoes with a distinctly herbal flavor. It’s served with a side of a naturally potent romesco sauce which livens up the entire appetizer with hints of red pepper and garlic.
The Empanadas ($4 each) bring a creative spin to the time-honored savory pastry that’s renowned in Spain and across Latin America. The Ham and Cheese empanada shines with chunks of flavorful ham and melted cheese. Also available are shrimp and cheese, beef, chicken and corn and cheese.
The Grilled Shrimp ($13) appetizer brings together hot and smoky grilled shrimp paired with a chilled corn salad with citrus dressing. Not only do the hot and cold complement each other, but the natural sweetness of the corn brings out the shrimp’s aquatic flavors.
The Beet and Quinoa ($14) salad turns what might have been an ordinary chopped salad into a creation closer to a dessert. A red beet base serves as the foundation for a top layer of quinoa topped with arugula, radish slices and yellow beets. Dotted around are also caramelized walnuts, bits of goat cheese and dollops of raspberry sauce. Together, the dish is a medley of flavors that are all-encompassing, yet singularly satisfying.
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the Mixed Grill For Two ($68) which offers up assorted cuts of sweet sausage, skirt steak, short ribs, chicken, lamb T-bone, black sausage, season vegetables and potato fries. The skirt steak is succulent, bursting with an authentic taste and texture that has made Argentinian steaks famous the world over. The lamb T-bone has a powerful, slightly musky flavor that will stop you in your tracks, then make you eagerly take another bite.
The Paella ($34 for one, $64 for two; add lobster for $12) is a true representation of the Spanish seafood staple. Featuring fresh shrimp, mussels, octopus and squid, the dish is as close as you’ll get to the shores of the Argentinian coast. The saffron rice carries the fragrant flavor of the alluring spice and serves as an excellent base for the seafood blend.
To top off the meal, enjoy the Fondue De Chocolate Con Fruta ($12) and dip slices of apples, pears and berry in a dark chocolate sauce kept warm with a candle underneath. The fruits are elegantly cut and the chocolate is rich, but not overly sweet.
Also try the Creme Brulee when it’s being offered as a dessert special. It brings together not only standard creme brulee with the crunchy top layer, but also two other unique takes on the dessert. One is mango flavored and is topped with banana and ground pistachio that juxtaposes nutty and fruity flavors. The other is blended with chocolate and is topped with blueberries, blackberries and strawberries making it tart, yet decadent.
Cuisine: Contemporary Argentinean
Atmosphere: Upscale but relaxed
Price: Moderate to Expensive
Hours: Lunch: Monday-Saturday, 12-3 p.m.; Dinner: Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m., and Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m., and Sunday, 4-9 p.m. Brunch: Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cafe Buenos Aires
23 Wall St., Huntington village