You know a place is serious about its steaks when they are larger than the oversize plates.
Just a little over 12 hours after La Brigada, I was tucking in to a Cabaña Las Lilas club steak. That’s a rib eye on the bone. So I didn’t feel too guilty, I ordered the Health Salad as an appetizer.
Located in Buenos Aires’ newest barrio called Puerto Madero, Cabaña Las Lilas is a big, airy restaurant with a substantial deck overlooking one of the four basins (diques) in a former port/industrial area. Consequently, there’s plenty of room in the warehouselike space for the solid, butcher-block style tables and wide leather chairs. The round tables for groups of 6 or 8 are actually cross sections of trees.
You enter past the glass-enclosed parilla, where the various cuts of beef, lamb and organ meats sizzle. Perusing the 350+ selection of Argentine wines can be time consuming—each one has a lengthy description of its flavors and character—but it’s organized roughly by quality. Each varietal and then the blends are divided into sections. There are exceptional wines, followed by muy buenos and buenos.
I settled on the young Alto Las Hormigas Malbec Reserva Viña Hormigas 2005. Purple in color, it was a little raw yet, with peppery, blackberry and spice aromas and flavors. It had a sense of elegance and well integrated tannins. Its juicy fruit became more evident with air and the steak, which was well salted and tender.
The sommelier (one of two), German Sahasquet, was eager to discuss the wines on the list, proudly stating that they were just about to add 120 new selections. From our brief discussion, he seemed to know a lot about the country’s wines, including some of the newest releases.
Some locals consider Cabaña Las Lilas too touristy. I’ve eaten there three times and the meat has always been top notch. At lunch, the interior is mostly full of porteño businessmen from the nearby center of the city. And there’s something for everyone on the list.
Plus, it’s an opportunity to see Buenos Aires’ fastest growing neighborhood. Development is everywhere. A stroll along the basins on a spring afternoon is pleasant. Calatrava’s Puerta des Mujers, a sweeping, modern footbridge is there, as is the museum of the frigate Presidente Sarmiento. For a moment, you can forget the bustle of the nearby city.
Fred Brown — November 27, 2006 9:04pm ET
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