Thursday, 13 December 2012

Fiesta Del Asado

Okay, so it’s a little outside Bearwood, but we’re pretty lucky to have the first Argentinean restaurant in the Midlands right on our doorsteps aren’t we eh? Yes, just a short stroll down the Hagley Road the team behind the award winning Lasan restaurant are now aiming to bring a similar same dash of magic to Latin American cuisine through Fiesta Del Asado. That means meat. Lots of meat. In fact it would be pretty easy to OD on the stuff. Not a bad way to go when the food’s this good though...

For the uninitiated Asado’s a Spanish word that encapsulates both the cooking style – barbecuing, in this case over a bed of applewood chips – and the more fun, sociable aspect that goes hand in hand or maybe tong in tong in this case with this kind of cuisine. This place is a world away from your typical spit‘n’sawdust barbecue joint though and it’s clear the owners have put plenty of thought into both the layout and the fittings with three distinct sections that break up the space nicely, a reclaimed wooden floor, a 1930s influenced bar, some neat shabby chic vintage pieces of furniture and a proper log burning stove (fitted but just awaiting that all important safety certificate). The feel’s relaxed and pretty intimate too, despite the place boasting 120 covers, and you’d struggle to believe that you’re just a few feet away from the busy Hagley Road.   

Okay, enough of the setting, this ain’t Through The Keyhole, on to the main event, the food and drink. It would be frankly sinful to ignore that bar so the night kicked off with cocktails, a zesty, fresh mojito with enough mint to bail out the bank of England and a classic Cosmopolitan guaranteed to give Carrie multiples. They came accompanied by complimentary fresh bread, baked on site naturally, at least a baker’s dozen times better than the standard bland rolls you often get served. For Aperitivos we plumped for chorizo pate on toasted bread and pan fried padron peppers with rock salt. 

The peppers were simple but delicious, soft and yielding without becoming slushy and losing their flavour. The light crunch and fresh hint of the sea provided by the rock salt topping the dish off nicely. Star of the show was the pate though, a fabulous hit of spicy chorizo liberally applied to two crisp slices of freshly baked bread.

With a taste for the rich and spicy Entrantes just had to include more sausage and I went for the big daddy, the morcilla curada, a traditional smoked black log of gorgeous gore. It’s like black pudding’s more exotic cousin, as rich as a Russian oligarch with a subtle smoky aftertaste, a little crispness on the outside opening up to a soft, moist inner. Blood sausages of any variety aren’t to everyone’s tastes of course but this was of the best, lacking the greasiness that some of its English relations sometimes suffer from but retaining that unmistakable primal earthy quality. Mrs B went for the tamer but no less impressive spinach and provolone Empanada (beef and potato and chicken and sweetcorn varieties are also available), little stuffed pastries livened up by roasted red pepper chutney and a cilantro sauce.    

The grill was calling so a ribeye steak seemed the perfect choice. Cooked to perfection it had that light crunch that you want when you bite into anything barbecued together with that juicy flavoursome burst of meatiness that only comes from a proper piece of well aged, well butchered piece of steak (all of the meat on offer here is ethically farmed – free range in the case of the chicken and beef and line caught when it comes to the fish). Again as with all the meaty dishes the accompaniment – fresh chimichurri this time – balanced out the flavour beautifully, with the fresh garlic and palate cleansing burst of oregano making each new bite as exciting as the first. 

The signature Fiesta Del Asado dry rub also joined the party, with different mouthfuls introducing new flavours depending on which bits of the rub dominated. Steak expectations well and truly realised. 

Mrs B plumped – and I use the word wisely in this case – for the Estafado, huge great chunks of beef patiently braised for a minimum of 12 hours in a Malbec and salchicon sauce until it reached that delicious melt in the mouth consistency that you’re crying out for on a cold winter’s night. 

A subtle hint of spice from the salchicon warmed the cheeks and sent the tastebuds into overdrive. Stew-pendous. A fine bottle of Malbec washed everything down, dark chocolate and ripe cherries tangoing seductively with liquorice on the tongue.

After a much needed break in proceedings we had to try the puddings and the churros (essentially a long Spainish doughnut) with spiced hot chocolate were a must. After so much spice perhaps the hot chocolate could do with a dash more heat but that’s down to personal taste and if you hadn’t gone for the richer dishes it may be just right. The churros were fried to perfection, soft and doughy but still surprisingly light. 

Such was the generosity of the portion of hot chocolate that they were quickly gobbled up leaving the rest of it to be devoured by spoon. No great hardship! Mrs B’s vanilla poached pear was reported as being light and fruity with the tang of the rhubarb cutting though lingering richness of the by now legendary estafado.

Service throughout was efficient but unhurried, wine was magically topped up, the table dusted down for crumbs after each dish and sufficient time allowed between courses to truly enjoy the whole experience. Fiesta Del-icious!

PS: If you're quick you can register for a £10 voucher off your first meal too!

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