La Brigada is a small storefront in Buenos Aires' blue-collar barrio of San Telmo. It’s a bustling place, with people milling about on the street waiting for a table in the small room. Inside it’s packed, with tables on the main floor and a second level. Waiters are running up and down the stairs delivering thick steaks hot off the grill.
It has the feel of a sports clubhouse. There’s soccer paraphernalia everywhere and the strains of tango rising and falling in the background. It’s not fancy, but there’s a boisterous, party atmosphere. After all, it’s all about the meat. And the wine.
The wine list isn’t big, with about 100 selections, but offers a good selection of Argentina’s producers. The first page has roughly two dozen reserve wines. I chose the Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier Malbec Uco Valley A Crux 2002. Out came the big glasses and a decanter. The big, muscular red had softened with bottle age, revealing blackberry, chocolate and mineral aromas and flavors. At 300 pesos (about $100), it’s in the mid-range for wines on the list. Prices seem higher than my last visit, just over a year ago.
To satiate our appetites, we ordered [i]mollejas[n] (sweetbreads from goat) and [i]morcilla[n], a blood sausage that tasted like it was stuffed with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. The sweetbreads came without the typical breading and were delicious, tender and lightly smoky from the grill. Superb with the wine.
This was followed by a filet mignon that was perfectly cooked with a crust on the outside and red center. I found the texture a little dry, but the flavor was terrific. Washed down with the Malbec, it was a good start to the week.