Named after one of Buenos Aires oldest neighbourhoods, San Telmo is one of Melbourne’s recentish additions to the Latin American inspired dining scene. And judging by my meal there over the Easter weekend with Alastair, Hazzie and Gazman: it’s a good one.
Opened late last year, San Telmo is a casual style eatery serving Argentinean inspired food. Fortunately they’ve bucked the no-booking trend of many of Melbourne’s new casual restaurants and take bookings, though half of the restaurant is set aside for walk ins. Hoorah.
The menu at San Telmo is designed to be shared, with a focus on meat cooked on the char-grill. There’s not that much for non-meat eaters, and in any case it’s not really a vegetarian friendly environment. The restaurant contains a big 2.5 metre parrilla / char-grill near the entrance, which is fantastic for cooking meat, but the smell does tend to linger in the air and cling to hair and clothes.
We started with the humita – fried corn and polenta chips ($12). This came as four fingers of soft cheesey polenta were served with chipotle mayonnaise. These were incredibly moreish, particularly with the spicy mayo, and left me wishing we had ordered two serves.
The plato de picada ($18) was a plate of jamon, bresaola, chorizo, pickled green tomato and caper berries. The meats were all really good, but strangely I loved the caper berries the most.
I also adored the pickled eggplant that came with the pita bread ($4).
There were two types of ceviche on the menu and we decided on the white fish with chilli, sweet potato and ginger ($16). Thick slices of fish had been marinated in fresh citrus juice and mixed with cubes of sweet potato and a bit of ginger. I didn’t really like the ceviche – the firm texture of the fish didn’t do it for me, and I didn’t think it went well with the sweet potato. The other ceviche of prawns with pickled octopus might’ve been a better choice.
We thought that a salad would be a good idea, so we added the ensalada palmitos – a salad of palm heart, jamon and buffalo mozzarella ($16). I loved the mozzarella and jamon, but would’ve been happy to leave behind the palm hearts, which reminded me of bamboo shoots.
Our next two dishes came off the char-grill and were served with two sauces – a chimichurri and a tomato and capsicum salsa. First we had the special 8 hour slow cooked lamb ($39). As expected, the lamb was fantastic – tender with crisped fatty parts.
But the steak was even better. Our 400g striploin ($47) had been dry aged on the bone, but came to the table all sliced up. The knife provided wasn’t necessary. The meat must’ve been cooked over a very high heat initially because it had developed a fantastic browned crust, while inside it still remained perfectly medium rare. Delicious.
We added a vegetable dish to go with our meats, opting for the grilled zucchini, eggplant and roast garlic ($10). It was just a simple side, but it was seriously good. Both the zucchini and eggplant were soft and subtly sweet.
We finished our meal with a small taste of dessert, which Hazzie ordered for us. We thought she was ordering us an alfajores each – a cookie filled with dulce de leche ($5) – but she only ordered us one to share.
We carefully cut it into quarters. And guess what? It turns out that one between us was enough. It was fine, but somehow it just didn’t excite any of us. It was a soft, crumbly cookie – veering towards being too dry – and the dulce de leche couldn’t elevate it to greatness. Oh well.
Our second dessert was the dulce de leche flan with caramel salted peanuts ($14). It was fine, though again it didn’t excite us. The dulce de leche on top was quite different to portion out.
Despite the fact that desserts didn’t wow us, and we left smelling like cooked meat, we really enjoyed San Telmo. I definitely need a return visit to try the empanadas, as well as the grilled provolone cheese which I hear is incredible. I also need to take some beef eating offal eaters with me (sorry Alastair, Haz and Gazman) so I can eat my way through the blood sausage, sweetbreads and grilled tongue.
For a few more posts on San Telmo, check out:
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14 Meyers Place
Phone: 03 9650 5525