One thing I like about Argentina, they only cook with salt; that’s it.
– Robert Duvall
San Telmo is a classic, rustic Melbourne establishment. Nestled down Meyers Place, the 300 year old antique doors open up to a cosy Argentinian restaurant which are perfect for a date night or a special occasion. I was in the mood for a banquet both meaty and hearty, and San Telmo’s menu ticked all the boxes. It is difficult to secure a booking on a Saturday so I opted for an early dinner at 5pm. Overwhelmed by choice, we landed on the $90 banquet menu which had a couple of menu items more than the $70 banquet, including the fried provolone which my dining partner was already salivating over.
To start we enjoyed the bread and eggplant – light, zingy and a strong opener for what was to come. The bread was warm and pillowy. Coupled with San Telmo’s version of an aperol spritz, this was a good palate awakener.
Next up were delightful empanadas – deep fried pastry pockets filled with beef, egg and cheese (what’s not to love?). The beef mince was spiced and had a deep, earthy flavours.
Soon after, a colourful plate of large, thick slices of rudderfish cerviche with scatterings of sweet potato. The rudderfish cerviche was perfectly cured, with dashes of chilli and onion. This was the perfect intermission dish to cleanse the pallet and offset the heavier empanadas well.
The fried provolone arrived in a small cast iron pan, sizzling and bubbling with strong, salty notes. A squeeze of lemon rounded this delightfully decadent dish off. At the same time, a homemade chorizo arrived. This sausage was the real deal – chunky, salty and when paired with the fried provolone, heart-stopping good.
The main event, and probably the dish I was looking forward to the most was the rib eye. These delicate, melty medium-rare slices of rib eye are testament to how steak should be done. San Telmo cannot be beaten when it comes to meat on grills. The sides accompanying the slab of rib eye; a light leafy vinaigrette salad and deep fried potatoes salsa provencol and fried capers, complemented the steak very well.
Pots of house chimichurri and the sharp and lively salsa criolla made with red and green capsicums, white onion, tomatoes and parsley, were paired perfectly with the meat.
One word of warning, after devouring copious amounts of meat at San Telmo, the thirst factor is very real.
I am not usually one to fawn over desserts. I far prefer savoury flavours (and salt – lots of salt). However, the two desserts; a traditional Argentinian biscuit filled with thick dulce de leache and a caramel with peanut praline were wonderful. The biscuit was a light shortbread with a thick smear of sweet dulce de leche in the middle. The caramel in particular was this light, jiggly, sweet dome, hiding within it a goopy mess of caramel and covered in caramelised crunch. It was so delicate and so amazingly delicious that I was reluctant to share…
San Telmo is a solid dining experience from start to finish. The service is friendly, quick and attentive – our wine glasses never dwindled on empty for too long. I’d highly recommend San Telmo as a destination for those looking for an intimate date, special occasion or for those who, like me, just wanted to devour an interesting succession of dishes. For first-timers, I’d highly recommend going down the banquet route since this gives you a chance to taste a large cross-section of the menu.