Unintentionally this week I ended up having curry three days in a row. Before this week I don’t think I’d had curry… in how long?? I’m thinking but I can’t remember when. It couldn’t be when I was in India last year, could it? I have no idea. But starting Wednesday I had a curry streak that took me to three different places in three days with three lovely women. The curries were all unique and tasty, and my dining companions made all three experiences fantastic. There are no photos of the curries, however, as I was too busy eating and chatting. First up, dinner at Azema Exotic Bistró in Palermo Hollywood.
Azema Exotic Bistró is the creation of chef-proprietor, Paul Jean Azema and is a little gem. I don’t know if anyone else in this city offers a menu that contains both French and Southeast Asian foods, and at least for me I thought it was a rare treat. The premise of Azema is to serve dishes from France and the former French colonies, so you find everything from a traditional French rabbit dish (we ordered one) to spicy shrimp curries (we had one of those as well). We loved that the chef personally came by to answer questions about the menu and to take our order. When he saw that we wanted to share our main courses, he said he would split up them up for us and serve the shrimp curry first, and then bring out the rabbit. Thank you kindly sir! I didn’t think the starter, albóndigas de pescado (they were Vietnamese fried fish balls) was great, but both the rabbit and the curry were excellent with a good spicy kick for the curry that I really appreciated. He has on the menu a curry de langostinos and a cari de langostinos; when asked he said “curry” was more Asian and spicier as opposed to the “cari” which was more French. We were happy with the curry and our meal was lovely overall.
It’s a small place (maybe 10-12 tables?) and it reminded me of Las Pizarras in many ways (also small, the chef working the room, great food, etc). The service was attentive, the dining room was full obvious regulars (the chef came and sat next to the diners to chat), a group was celebrating a birthday, and there was a couple who seemed to be tourists. My new friend from the Land of the Rising Sun and I went without a reservation on a Wednesday night and were seated right away, but the room filled up quickly. A mix of locals and visitors, but all were made to feel right at home in a warm and colorful room (the walls are painted in rich reds, blues, greens- I want to say it’s almost North African/Moroccan?). The restaurant with its staff, the ambiance, and the food, reflects the owner as a chef and I think, who he is as a person.
On Thursday after visiting the fascinating El Zanjón (more on that later), my fabulous friend T (sporting a new pair of equally fabu sunglasses) and I had a blast at Tandoor, a peaceful and elegant Indian restaurant in Barrio Norte. The food is North Indian and predictably the dishes have been subdued and changed slightly to appeal to the local clientele, but it was good nonetheless. All of the familiar Indian spices were there and our waitress brought out a small timbale of what I can only describe as a puré of jalapeños/chiles. A small teaspoonful of this stuff produced an impressive heat wave that rivaled the weather outside- phew! My saag paneer was a bit watery but the paneer was decent. My dining (and drinking) companion LOVED her lamb curry, which I tasted a bit of and thought quite good as well. Their naan wasn’t pillow-y, but two bottles of Malbec made up for that and then some. We were happy enough to park ourselves by one of the large sunny windows and spend the entire afternoon there. I think we are going back next week for a repeat performance.
Finally I’m onto my last curry from this week at Bangalore Pub & Curry House last night. I picked up my “kindred spirit/we’ve been living parallel lives on different coasts/we’ll be hiking in India before we know it” M in Las Cañitas and made the sweaty trek over to this British pub for a pint and some pumpkin curry. The young crowd had already spilled out onto the street when we arrived but we scored two seats at the bar where the AC thankfully worked overtime to cool us down. The pumpkin curry was a definite must but when we spotted a skinny porteña sitting next to us inhaling her lamb burger and fries, we knew we had to have that too. We also ordered a cheese naan, which turned out to be quite terrible but the curry was fantastic! The lamb burger was good (perhaps a tad bit dry) but the real winner last night was the pumpkin curry. I’m almost tempted to go back today and try the other curries, but I will stop myself from this week’s curry overload. Oh, and I should mention the fun house music they play and the lively atmosphere at Bangalore. It’s a nice place to plop down and groove with a good curry. One last thing about Bangalore is that they open ~5PM everyday, a definite rarity in Buenos Aires. If you have your birthday there M, I hope I’m invited.. I may crash it if I’m not!
Thanks to all three ladies for my week of curry extravaganza!
Azema Exotic Bistró: Angel Carranza 1875 near Costa Rica, Palermo Hollywood (only open for dinner)
Tandoor: Laprida 1293 near Charcas, Barrio Norte
Bangalore Pub & Curry House: Humboldt 1416 (@ Niceto Vega), Palermo Hollywood (opens at 17:00)