ANDREA BURGENER: It’s a big fat ‘yay’ for the relocated Che Argentine Grill
The menu is a delight for succulent meat lovers
I'd never eaten spider steak, also sometimes called oyster steak. And not because the name is somewhat unnerving, but for the simple reason that I’d never seen it offered on a local menu.
Maybe it’s always lurked there, among the more pedestrian fillets and rumps, but I’ve never spotted it. And naturally, it would be the guys at brilliant Che Argentine Grill — freshly moved to Parkwood after four years in Maboneng — who put this unassuming looking cut in front of me.
The spider steak (on Che’s menu it’s the Aranita) is so called because of the radiating pattern made by the fat striations. It isn’t cheap, and nor should it be: there are two tiny bits such as this on a cow, one on each hip. There’s even less of this on the animal than fillet. It’s a hundred times more delicious, and as with all the beef at Che, it’s from grass-fed beef.
Che’s Aranita is mesmerisingly, eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-your head, fantastic. I do hate the phrase next-level, but this is, unquestionably, next-level. Maybe even the level after next. Run through with fat, tasting only of itself, perfectly salted, perfectly cooked; it is excellent. I’d really like to chat for a few pages more about this indecently good piece of meat, but I need to leave space in which to lavish attention on the other offerings.
Brace yourself for more adulation. Basically, you can’t go wrong with whatever you order here. But things are — unsurprisingly — at their best when it comes to flesh on the fire.
The duo behind Che, Bernardo Corti and Oscar Faraldo (respectively Argentinian and Uruguayan), really understand meat. I mean they get it, in a way that few others in this town do, braai culture notwithstanding. They get it in a way which will have you rethinking your own approach to selecting, preparing and cooking meat.
The mostly traditional Argentinian cuts are of course different to local steakhouse cuts, and cooking method is Argentinian too, with only coarse salt going onto the meat before cooking on the vast open fire-grill. Everything coming off this grill is succulent, flavourful heaven. There’s a sophistication in this simplicity that makes the marinade-sodden offerings of many local steakhouses seem positively barbaric.
And I love that there’s no fear of fat here. Fat is celebrated both in the naked cuts and charcuterie. The homemade Morcilla (blood sausage) and Chorizo, plus the Mollejas (sweetbreads), are all unctuous perfection. The salsa criolla (finely chopped tomato, onion, parsley and pepper) is the perfect foil to the richness of the meats.
If you can’t handle a fire-licked naked meat cut or visceral charcuterie, then the Milanese — a super-succulent comfort rump schnitzel — is the way to go. And leave space for a few empanadas — delicate mini pies with both vegetarian and meat fillings. My only sadness is that the corn-filled empanadas have disappeared. I so hope they return soon.
If there is a corner of space left, you should try a spoonful or two of the home-churned dulce de leche: dark caramelly sweetness of unfathomable depth. Oh and did I mention that the cocktails and the loos are great too?
I realise this review seems bizarrely, even suspiciously, glowing. But no, I wasn’t paid. Bernardo, Oscar and their team are just that good.
Visit Che at 128 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, or go to http://cheargentinegrill.co.za/ to make a reservation.