Secret supper clubs (known as puertas cerradas or closed-door restaurants) are all the rage in Buenos Aires. Porteños get a kick out of hunting down addresses, scouring Instagram and crowding into a chef’s secret dining room. So, we’ve rounded up a tasting menu of the best in BA to kickstart your gourmet getaway.
First, a few pointers…
– The address will likely be revealed at the last minute, so be prepared to be flexible
– Tasting menus are the norm and are usually shrouded in secrecy. If you live and die by a la carte, give these a miss
– Often, the closed-door restaurant will be little more than the chef’s dining room or garden, so get elbow jostling and make some new friends
– Each restaurant will have its own rules. Act as if you’re a guest at a friend’s house, with all the respect that affords
– Allergies are usually catered for, but be sure to give the chef advanced notice
– Advance booking is essential and it’s de rigueur to rock up early.
CASA SALTSHAKER, BARRIO NORTE
Your hosts Chef and sommelier Dan Perlman and anthropologist and dance folklorist Henry Tapia.
Number of guests 10
What to expect Guests gather at a communal table in the dining room of a cosy flat in Barrio Norte. The five-course tasting menu changes nightly (Perlman rarely cooks the same thing twice). There’s plenty of fresh Andean fruit and veg, and Perlman makes most of produce such as pasta, cheeses, sausages and ice-cream. Cuisine tends to be varied, although they steer clear of Argentinian to mix things up a bit. Guests are treated to a traditional apéritif on arrival and it’s a wine dinner – no substitutions – so meals come paired with five tasting glasses.
On the menu Past dishes have included cheddar-and-ale soup, Brazilian sandperch with sesame and gojuchang (chilli paste) on pine-nut porridge, and a corn-and-pineapple brownie with popcorn gelato and Mexican mole poblano spices.
Entry level Fair. Spaces fill up fast, but hosts appear responsive and have clear info on their site.
PALADAR, VILLA CRESPO
Your hosts Sommelier Ivana Piñar and her husband chef Pablo Abramovsky.
Number of guests Up to 16.
What to expect This is a more multidisciplinary experience, where classes and wine tastings are offered alongside the excellent five-course tasting menu. Learn the history of and how to prepare yerba mate (a traditional botanical tea), and how to tell your Mendoza Malbec from your Patagonian pinot noir. Rustle up babaganoush, bread and ceviche from scratch, or limber up for a tango lesson with tapas. Pablo and Ivana host guests in their flat, a low-lit, theatre-curtain-red space set for lively evenings. Arrive at 9pm prompt.
On the menu Under Ivana’s curation, the paired wines are very good, and you get a welcome drink. Pablo lovingly prepares zingy ceviche, confit-lamb ravioli with mushrooms, braised pork shoulder with crispy sweet potatoes and red-rice salad. To finish, crème brûlée with seasonal fruit and almond praline.
Entry level Middling, may require some email ping-pong and a blast on the phone.
Number of guests The clue’s in the name, which translates to a party-starting 30 seats.
Your host Chef Ezequiel Gallardo overlooks proceedings – he’ll be busy whipping up the tasty dishes in the kitchen, but usually emerges to chat to diners.
What to expect Slightly larger and less slapdash than other closed-doors, this spot feels the most like a ‘proper’ restaurant. Albeit a cosy, super-chill one. A stuffed animal here, a colour-coordinated bar there, jam-jars of coeliac-friendly chutneys and syrups for sale: its easygoing air belies the chef’s serious talent, but you’ll be assured of that once you get fork-shovelling, or partake in the cookery classes held on site.
On the menu There’s something new every week, but a typical run is: foie gras with quince, goat’s-cheese quiche with leeks and hazelnuts, pork with smoked provolone and harissa-rubbed carrots, as well as mousse with almond crumble (alcoholic drinks are extra).
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