In a country that has recently become a popular wine producer, there seem to be lots of wine boutiques in Buenos Aires but only a few wine bars. One of them is the recently opened Aldo's off a nondescript street in the old-style neighborhood of San Telmo. (We went there for dinner on a Saturday evening with our very good French friends, J & V who we met in Chile more than ten years ago. J is godfather to our firstborn and he and V had flown over for the weekend from Santiago where they still live just to see us and meet their godson again.)
First thing one sees is the entryway flanked by large store-like window displays of wines on open shelves. Once through the door, the restaurant is one large square room with wooden floors, cozy dark blue velvet banquettes and a bar at the far end of the room. Tables are set simply with a wine glass and a water tumbler, linen napkins over a paper tablecloth with a double red stripe running through it.
At Aldo's it's all about the wine and their comprehensive wine selections lists all the different grape varieties of Argentina leading with the Malbec and Torrontes. The menu is a simple one-page sheet with a few appetizers, some quiches (called tartas), half a dozen main courses with most items cooked on the grill and a handful of desserts. Keeping with the wine-centric evening, the knowledgeable Peruvian sommelier guided us through the wine list keeping in mind our budget. To start, we chose a Colomé Torrontes 2011 which showcases the typical white grape variety grown higher up than Mendoza in Salta with vineyards more than 2000 meters above sea level. Part of the Hess Collection of wineries, Colome was established in 1831 making it the oldest winery in Argentia. Here both Torrontes and Malbec are produced with great success. We were pleasantly surprised by the wine and it's flowery aroma and it's freshness. With this we shared two appetizers: a marinated salmon with paper-thin slices of cucumbers and dill and a plate of jamon crudo topped with dried figs and arugula. Both starters were simple but quite good and served with a basket of bread.
For our main courses, A and J had meat - Milanesas con pure and the 8-hour lamb while V and I both had the fish of the day - grilled cod with two sauces: salsa verde and a creamy butter sauce which we were then going to have with a Zorzal Reserva 2009 Malbec from further south of Mendoza in the Valle de Uco. The wine complemented the boy's meat dishes and although we had a few sips, we stuck to our Torrontes. It's good that the wines were interesting as the main courses were disappointing - the milanesas (breaded beef) were battered in sesame breadcrumbs and the lamb was a black mass of meat on a plate, not very appetizing to look at and dry despite the many hours of slow-cooking. The fish of the day was dry and the sauces bland. We shared a dessert of fresh fruit with mint and grapefruit granita which was just that, nothing more, nothing less. Considering that the place has only been open a few months, they can still improve their menu. Don't come here for the food because Aldo's is a wine bar and in that sense, they have succeeded with their extensive wine list and very reasonable wine prices.
(at the Hotel Moreno)
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Telephone: +54 11 5291 2380