This is the sixth post in the Hello Argentina Series detailing my week-long trip in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Other posts include Hello Argentina, La Cabrera, La Rambla, Empanadas, Tamales, and Beer, Oh My!, Buenos Aires – Three Most Famous Ice Cream Shops, and Chila.
This is also Post #21 of the 31 Posts in 31 Days Challenge
They whisked me into a car and told me they were taking me to lunch.
I had no idea where I was going.
Don’t worry. It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. I was meeting colleagues from a local Argentinian law firm. Though I had never met them face to face before, we had worked together for years.
About 15 minutes later, we stepped out into a leafy, wealthy area of town called La Recoleta. I had actually been here a few days earlier to visit the famous Recoleta Cemetary and to eat much humbler food. We were at the lobby of the Four Seasons Buenos Aires.
It was beautiful out. The sun was strong.
We stepped into the hotel and entered a restaurant called Elena.
Elena is named after Elena Peña, wife of the rich aristocrat and architect Felix de Alzaga Unzue, who built this soaring mansion in the style of Louis XIII for her as a wedding present. Elena the restaurant is located on the first floor of this former mansion, now the Four Seasons.
The space is absolutely stunning.
The soaring ceilings, majestic staircase, and retro, antique-like, yet warm, elegant decor immediately put me at ease.
We were there at lunch during a weekday, and thus were able to take advantage of the warm sun shining through the enormous skylight above.
Elena has only been open since 2012, but it’s already received much recognition. It currently sits on San Pellegrino’s Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, barely sliding in at number 50.
Though this restaurant is most famous for its Sunday brunch (hello dulce de leche pancakes!), our weekday lunch here was excellent as well. We sampled lots of charcuterie, savored their vast selection of high quality steaks, and had a chance to try their artisanal gelato, supposedly one of the best in Buenos Aires.
There were three of us, so we shared one of the many charcuterie plates on the menu. This was called Felix Selection (195 pesos, undoubted named after Elena’s husband. This particular plate included fuet (Catalan thin cured dry sausage), prosciutto (Italian cured meat), brie (French soft cheese), and peppered cacciocavalo (stretched cured cheese from Italy). Everything was very good. I especially enjoyed the solid pieces of honeycomb, which complemented the rest of the items so well.
Of course we had to have some local wine. This is the 2011 Clos de los Siete from Michel Rolland. The wine is a result of a collaboration project between seven French winemakers using grapes grown at the foot of the Andes Mountain in the Uco Valley.
Two of us decided to order the Angus New York Strip (155 pesos / $19 USD). It came with a chimichurri dipping sauce as well as a simple salad on the side. It was a smaller portion, which is why I chose it.
Our other colleague ordered the Angus Tenderloin (385 pesos / $48), which looked phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a tall piece of steak. It looked delicious, though I did not actually try any.
Elena is known for its excellent selection of gelato, and these did not disappoint. I especially loved the unusual black cone in which it was served.
We ended our lovely lunch with a simple canelé each (one of my favorite desserts!) as well a lovely cappuccino. It was a perfect place to have a relaxing business lunch. The soaring ceilings and huge skylight made us feel almost like we were eating outside.
The partner had to go back to work, but the other attorney, his daughter, ended up taking me around Buenos Aires for the rest of the afternoon. We talked a lot.
About the state of things in Argentina right now. About her kids. About what it was like raising children in an urban environment that (lately) has become less and less safe. She even shared with me top ice cream places, telling me exactly how to get to one of them on my way home.
I was so touched by the warmth of theses local hosts and, at the same time, saddened by the state of things in Buenos Aires right now.
The food was delicious here. However, what I took away most from this meal was a friendship and a new appreciation for the people of this country.
Four Seasons Hotel,
Posadas 1086/88, Buenos Aires
+54 11 4321 1628
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