Review - Latinoamerica

Review – Latinoamerica

A great steak is the one craving I just can’t ignore, one that can only be hushed with a slab of meat (ok, and a glass of red). I get this need often, so I was really looking forward to trying new Argentine restaurant Latinoamérica in – as their sign reads – ‘el barrio de Hove’. Nice touch.

It’s not been open long, yet has been praised on social media by a number of well-respected local chefs as THE place to eat steak in the city. A very good sign.

Beef is probably Argentina’s most famous export (second only to Ulloa, some Brightonians may argue), and the country boasts more cattle than people. Asado is a way of life there, where friends and family gather together to grill meat over charcoal and flame, and indeed the team at Latinoamérica are so fiercely proud of their homeland’s produce – and so dedicated to authenticity – that all their meat is imported.

Interestingly, the menu features a lot of Italian influences – a post-war wave of immigrants made a significant mark on Argentina’s cuisine – with such dishes as risotto, polenta, provoleta (Provolone cheese) and Milanesa a la Napolitana. The wine list includes no less than thirteen Malbecs, and we were recommended a Tapiz 2014 from the Mendoza region, which was typically powerful, fruity and smooth – a perfect match for everything we ate.

Wanting the full authentic experience, we asked manager Damian to choose his favourite dishes for us. Grilled morcilla (£4) was easily the best blood sausage I’ve had: soft and light, falling apart when sliced open and deeply savoury without being overly salty. It was served with a salsa criolla – finely chopped pepper, onion, vinegar and olive oil.

"The best blood sausage I've ever had"

“The best blood sausage I’ve ever had”

Chipa correntino (£3.90), freshly baked cheesy rolls made from cassava flour, were great with a creamy, salty Stilton dip. Provoleta al oreganato (£5.50), melted cheese with little toasts for scooping, came in the pan it had been grilled in; in Argentina, this is often wrapped in foil and cooked on the barbecue.

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But we were here for the steaks, and they did not disappoint. Unusually, we both went for the same main course: ojo de bife (rib-eye – £16.50/£23.50, depending on portion size), cooked on la parrilla. Rump, sirloin and fillet are also available, but rib-eye – arguably the tastiest cut – is always my steak of choice. It was beautiful: chargrilled to absolute perfection (the menu recommends medium-rare to medium) marbled with yellow, buttery fat, packed with flavour and meltingly soft.

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The criolla made a second appearance in a trio of sauces, plus chimichurri – the national salsa made with herbs, oil, garlic and vinegar – and a punchy provenzal of parsley and biblical amounts of garlic (not a good choice if you’re on a date you think may lead to breakfast. Don’t say I didn’t warn you).

I finished with Flan Mixto (£5), a traditional crème caramel with a fantastic homemade dulce de leche, and a glass of Malamado dessert Malbec, a new one on me and something I’ll definitely be trying again.

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I was really impressed by the separate, dedicated menu for vegetarians – no tedious scrolling through V symbols required here – a very thoughtful touch that makes this place ideal for groups.

So, does Latinoamérica serve the best steaks in the city, as Twitter has led me to believe? Well, as I haven’t tried them all, I hesitate to make such a bold statement. All I will say is this: next time I get that craving, this is where I’ll go.

Latinoamerica – 36 Church Road, Hove – 01273 770355

First published in the Brighton & Hove Independent on Friday 7th August.