Seriously, just editing the photos and writing this post has made me so mega hungry.
When an email popped into my inbox about lunch at an Argentinian restuarant, my first thought was HOLY HELL YES. Because I love me some steak. And red wine. And having lunch with other awesome London food blogger types. Hello lovely Sunday.
Typically, the Central line was being a pain and I ended up missing my train from Waterloo by seconds. I was totally that person who runs up to a leaving train looking dishevelled and distraught and swearing a fair bit. Good job there was another one to Vauxhall in a few minutes, eh? I hopped in an Uber and managed to make it to the restautant, only 20mins late, and perched my bum down next to Alex and opposite Em. Thankfully, they didn’t berate me for my lateness…too much.
I’d arrived just in time to be taken through the menu. And what a menu.
Obviously, when you’re stuffing your face with steak, red wine is the obvious boozy accompaniment. In fact, the Santa Maria del Sur team wouldn’t comprehend us drinking anything else! I never used to be a big red wine fan, but since discovering that it doesn’t all taste like the vinegary £5 bottle I had from Sainsburys that time, I’ve embraced it. Particularly when I’m eating red meat.
The wine filling up our glasses was the Abasto Malbec – specially bottled for Santa Maria del Sur. Oh crikey, it’s GOOD WINE. At £36.25 a bottle, you’d expect so, really. Full-bodied in taste but with a light, drinkable texture, sipping on this while we ate our way through the menu was a proper treat.
For our starters, the crispy empanadas were packed with tasty meaty flavours – the beef mince (£3.10) was absolutely delicious, and the chicken (£3.10) was perfectly grilled and plenty moreish. Generous portion sizes too, with the pastry exteriors definitely packed out with filling. They were so good I could easily have eaten an entire plateful, if I’m honest. But when the mains arrived, I was pretty glad I didn’t.
Here it goes guys. Steak time…
I’d gone all out and ordered a Parrilada Deluxe to share with Alex, who then had to make a speedy exit to go be on telly. As you do. After he’d taken his share of the steak to try, I was left with a pretty hefty portion of meat and sides to get my teeth into.
Seriously, Santa Maria del Sur’s steak is the actual bomb. Thick slabs of meat, served up sizzling on a hot plate with coals underneath to keep the steak hot whilst at your table. Tender and beautifully cooked, this is steak at it’s damned finest.
As part of the platter, I also had a whole bowl of melted provolone cheese all for me. Yes, I totally ate a whole bowl of cheese. And wanted more afterwards…the cheese itself had a more unusual taste than your classic cheddar. Slightly sharper, and super gooey thanks to being kept on the hot plate. It went perfectly with the fillet steak, combining with the soft and tender meat to make one hell of a delicious mouthful.
I decided to eat the rib-eye cheese-free, as it had so much rich flavour and a slight covering of rock salt, I didn’t want anything to interfere with its meatiness. As advised, I ordered medium rare, and the hot plate actually cooked it through a bit more very slowly as it sat in front of me, bringing out even more of the juicy flavours.
To make it a little more healthy after all that cheese, I picked up a Morrón Asado dish – grilled red peppers with a garlic & herbs dressing. I really like peppers, but these were pretty much in a different league. At Santa Maria del Sur, the chefs remove the skins and char the peppers, making for a really easy-to-eat texture, topped with smaller pepper pieces. This also, incidentally, went really well with…the provolone cheese.
Finally, we were offered up some Molleja sweetbreads with lemon to try out. Most of us actually didn’t know what a sweetbread was, so were tasting blind. It was definitely unusual – slightly liquid-y, bitter and quite a chewy texture. I don’t think I’d order them myself again, but I was surprised at how edible they were considering what they are. In case you want to try them blind for yourself, I’ll hide the secret away at the bottom of the post!
Rather than let us all choose one dessert, the team decided just to throw all their offerings out onto the table for us to dig into. Trying everything the sweet menu has to offer? Muchos important. After much photo-taking, we started passing round the desserts to try out. Like pass the parcel, but with less unwrapping and more ‘mmm’-ing.
First up, I dug my spoon into the Creme Brûlée (£4.50), which turned out to be a very good start. Delicious sweet custard and a properly crispy caramel topping, it was closely matched in deliciousness by the next dessert up – the Dulce de Leche marble cheesecake (£5). The Don Pedro (£6) is a booze-lover’s dessert – ice cream with nuts and chocolate, plus a shot of whisky, Amaretto, rum or Baileys to pour over. It didn’t taste as boozy as I’d expected either.
After much important research from trying all of them, I declared my favourite dessert to be the Panqueque con Dulce de Leche (£5), a milk toffee filled pancake with chocolate. Yep, the humble crepe won the day. The filling was absolutely divine – it actually had a slight salted caramel taste, although the overpowering vibe was of that amazing Biscoff caramelised biscuit spread. If you haven’t tried it, you really should.
Although it was definitely a meat-heavy meal, we had one veggie at the table, and there are plenty of tapas style vegetarian friendly offerings. If you’re not a meat-eater, it’s probably not a place you’d choose to go – but if you do have a group with a vegetarian in, they definitely won’t go hungry thanks to the sweet potato, cheese dishes and delicious salad options.
And if you are a meat-eater looking for a special-occasion place to eat, Santa Maria del Sur is an absolute perfect choice! A huge thanks to Alberto and Juan for being incredible hosts, and Uli for sorting out an amazing almost four hours(!) with incredible food and company!
*I was a guest at Santa Maria del Sur for their bloggers’ lunch – honest opinions, as per. I really do love steak a lot.
Hello. Fancy seeing you down here. So, what are sweetbreads? Basically, they’re organ meat. This one was from a cow’s saliva gland. Sounds grim, but as I said – I was surprised at how edible they were…