Think Argentine food is all about steaks and red wine? You’re partly right, but that’s not the full story. Ernesto Paiva, the executive chef of Garufin, is from central Argentina and has created a menu that represents real Argentine food with a wine list to match.
Set in a converted basement, Garufin is tucked away from the main streets of Holborn, conveniently located just around the corner from the station. As well as the restaurant, there is also an upstairs bar-café for a less formal experience.
The menu is made up of tapas-style small dishes of snacks, meat and vegetables in addition to Argentinian chargrilled steaks. Amongst the dishes I tried was the recommended Locro; a traditional stew made of pumpkin, pulled pork and chorizo and a national Argentine dish. I also tried the Costilla (braised short rib and polenta – one of my favourite dishes from the evening); Humita & Cabra (creamed sweetcorn with sweet potato and goat’s cheese); and the Garufin salad (finished with pomegranate). For carnivores like me, the fillet steak with bone marrow (Lomo & Caracu) was beautiful, well seasoned and cooked just right.
By the time we got to dessert, I was full of food and Malbec (the wine list is exclusively Argentine), but I was glad of the extra room I found when we were served the chocolate fondant and the Dulce de Leche, a popular Argentine dessert.
The service was excellent and the food came out promptly with no delays. For me, the only thing lacking was a little atmosphere – although admittedly it is hard to judge atmosphere based on a Monday evening. The wine-cellar conversion could have been better executed with a little more work and some finishing touches (I found myself looking at the bare metal ventilation shaft that runs across the low ceiling), but the potential is definitely there with the quirky arches and vaults set in the walls, making for an interesting setting. Although I don’t believe that restaurants need to grip onto a clichéd theme, I felt that there could have been regional additions to the decor to match the authentic Argentine menu.
However, for Argentine food lovers (or foodies in general), Garufin will not disappoint. The atmosphere was better suited to larger parties, rather than couples, but I could not fault the service, the food was excellent and overall I very much enjoyed being wined and dined by Garufin.
25-27 Theobalds Road
Tel: 020 7430 9073